Atlantic Notes: Turner, Valanciunas, Lin

The Sixers, who once looked as though they might run away with the Atlantic Division title, shouldn't look behind them now. The Celtics have gone 10-3 since starting 5-9, and entered the night three and a half games back. The Knicks, infused with Jeremy Lin's mojo, have won five straight and are six games back. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is just 3-3 in its last six games. Here's what's going on as the race tightens:

  • Behind the smiles surrounding the Sixers' fast start is the worry about getting worthwhile returns from the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. Evan Turner's minutes have been in decline. Coach Doug Collins says it's a result of other wing players performing well, and not a slump on Turner's part, reports Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Turner believes he's on the wrong end of supply and demand, saying, "There's a recession, baby. We're like the stock market with playing time."
  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun details how Raptors coach Dwane Casey almost signed Lin for the Mavericks a couple of years ago when Casey, a former Dallas assistant, was running a summer league team. 
  • The fifth pick in the 2011 draft, Raptors pick Jonas Valanciunas, just scored some new hardware, notes Wolstat in the same report. He's FIBA Europe's Young Player of the Year, joining Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez and Jan Vesely, all of whom won the award in the past. Valanciunas recently met with Raptors GM Brian Colangelo for the first time since last summer as the two move closer to a deal to bring the 6-foot-11 center to Toronto next year.


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