Evan Turner playing point guard for Pacers

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With starting point guard George Hill out injured the last two games, the Indiana Pacers have undertaken an interesting experiment: using Evan Turner at point guard.

Turner, a wing by trade, played point guard at Ohio State and dabbled at the position in Philadelphia. In Indiana, he was expected to take Danny Granger’s minutes as backup small forward. But Hill’s injury has afforded the Pacers to give him a longer look at point guard.

So far, the results have been extreme.

When backup point guard C.J. Watson and third-stringer Donald Sloan – each elevated a spot without Hill – are on the bench and Turner plays (via nbawowy):

  • Offensive rating: 95.2
  • Defensive rating: 76.2
  • Net rating: +19.0

In other words, with Turner at point guard, Indiana plays like the NBA’s worst offense, best defense and best team. Those lineups have played just 13 minutes, so major sample-size caveats apply, though.

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But we can still see the beginnings of a concept.

With Turner the designated one, Stephenson sometimes assumes point-guard duties when he grabs the defensive rebound. Stephenson does the same with Hill, but is maybe less prone to deferring to Turner.

The Pacers play at a plodding pace of 76.6, influenced by Turner’s presence on both ends of the ball.

On offense, the 6-foot-7 Turner is slower than a typical point guard and more measured in his attacks. He doesn’t really push the ball to create transition opportunities.

Defensively, opponents are flummoxed with Indiana’s taller lineups – often just passing the ball around the perimeter, afraid to throw an entry pass over or through the field of long arms. The number of long jumpers the Pacers have forced these last two games is in line with their season percentage – except when Turner plays point guard. Then, it skyrockets.

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Of course, these last two games – wins over the Celtics and Jazz – are unrepresentative in more ways than they’re representative. Those opponents are just far beneath average quality.

Before the Pacers’ schedule gets tougher into the playoffs, they need to know whether lineups with Turner at point guard can give them an edge. It’s an interesting process playing out as Indiana hits an otherwise relatively meaningless stretch run.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.