By Kyle Beery | @BeeryK
Myles Turner has arrived.
The rookie out of Texas made his first career start Thursday night for the Indiana Pacers. He scored 20 points and pulled down six rebounds as the Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 111-92.
It was Turner’s seventh straight game in double figures. He is averaging 18.3 points per game during that stretch.
“It was probably the most nervous I’ve been all season, even more than when I came back from the injury, and even more than when I had my first game.” Turner told FOX Sports Indiana in an on-court interview following the game. “But I feel like that nervous energy was good for me. I was able to go out there and it gave me a little extra energy.”
Turner said he sees that as his role with the Pacers — bringing a spark of energy to the floor.
The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Pacers. They had lost six of seven heading into Thursday night.
Indiana (24-22) closed the game on a 23-2 run, after trailing Atlanta (27-21) by two with under six minutes to play.
“We just said we need a win, we’re tired of losing,” Turner said. “We needed to go out here and produce, and coach put us in a good position.”
The Pacers starting lineup — Turner, Ian Mahinmi, Paul George, George Hill and Monta Ellis — played most of the time during the big run to close the game. After Tuesday’s game, head coach Frank Vogel spoke about wanting to see Turner and Mahinmi on the floor at the same time, and it worked out pretty well Thursday.
“It can be very effective,” Turner said. “Coach said before I got injured that that was a lineup he really wanted to try and go to.”
Turner said it was a confidence booster to beat a team like Atlanta that was holding the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference going into the game.
“We got a win over a quality team in the East, and we need to continue to build our rap sheet,” Turner said.
Indianapolis native Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 20 points.
Ellis led all scorers with 25 points, going 5-for-7 from three-point range. George Hill put up 18 on 3-of-4 shooting from distance. Indiana shot 60 percent from deep on the night.
The Pacers got 29 points from the bench, including two towards the end of the game from Shayne Whittington, who was recalled from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this week.
The Pacers continue a four-game home stand Saturday as they host the Denver Nuggets. Denver (18-29) is coming off a 117-113 road win over the Washington Wizards Thursday night.