After scoring 17 points on nine field goal attempts through three quarters against the Toronto Raptors last night, Myles Turner went 0-for-2 over the game’s final twelve minutes. Not even taking into account the pair of fourth quarters he sat against the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic, it marked the tenth game this season wherein the 6-foot-11 mid-range assassin attempted two or fewer shots during the final period.
Troublesome as it may sometimes be, Turner’s lack of late-game involvement isn’t always without reason.
They didn’t need him to play much in the fourth when they built sizable leads against the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. Sabonis was better suited to make an impact when his shot (4-of-11), like Turner’s (3-of-13), wasn’t falling against the Pistons. And when Lance Stephenson embraced the role of hero, twice scoring 13 points to lead fourth quarter charges during the team’s five-game win streak, they opted to feed the hot hand.
That’s all fair enough.
Where it becomes problematic is instances such as the final twelves minutes against the New York Knicks, when the Pacers blew a 19-point lead while Turner and Domantas Sabonis only got one shot between them despite combining to score 32 points on 16 field goals prior to that point.
Tellingly, since the shot-blocker’s seven-game absence with a concussion, none of Indiana’s top-8 rotation players have attempted fewer total field goals during the fourth quarter than Turner.
Not unlike the low quantity, the quality of the few shots he gets tends to be more reflective of a stop-release than potential top option.
Per Matt Moore of CBS Sports, Turner is shooting 53 percent (59 percent effective field goal percentage) on pick-and-pop jump shots this season, and the Pacers run the most prolific pick-and-roll offense in the league. Yet, somehow, Indiana couldn’t generate a single field goal out of this type of action for Turner during the fourth quarter last night.
Instead, after a few quick reversals following an offensive rebound by Thaddeus Young, he took this deep three well above the top of DeMar DeRozan’s outstretched arm.
And, he sort of walked into this uncontested three as the trailer.
These aren’t bad shots. They just shouldn’t be his only shots.
Overall, excluding his two DNPs, the Pacers have gone 5-5 when the 21-year-old shot blocker has attempted fewer than three shots in the fourth quarter, a win percentage which is slightly worse than their overall record. Narrowing those same games down to those that were within five points (whether leading or trailing) at the end of the third period, they’re 1-2.
All of which suggests that as long as the Pacers continue to surrender more points in the paint per 100 possessions than any team in the league, they can’t afford to leave any of their own high-percentage shots on the table.
Especially not from Turner. Not only because he’s been the most accurate player in the league from between the paint and three-point line (minimum 50 attempts), but because empowering him to demand the ball should be among the team’s foremost priorities.
If he’s the future, he shouldn’t be an afterthought in any quarter.