Turk still has something left in the tank for Clippers

Hello, Hedo Turkgolu. It’s been a while.

Turkoglu has had a big role for the Clippers the last few games and the day before his 36th birthday, he scored a season-high 19 points — including five 3-pointers — in 33 minutes in the Clippers win over the Kings.

"I’m just enjoying this," said Turkoglu, who was wearing a baseball cap backward at shootaround. "I’m getting to the end of my career. I’m going to enjoy every second of it."

And why not? 

Turkoglu has been relegated to the bench for much of the season, but he knew that’s what his role might be for the Clippers this year. Sometimes, Doc Rivers will insert him into a game in the first quarter. Sometimes, he doesn’t play at all.

But with all of the Clippers’ injuries, he’s played more as of late and started twice with Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Jordan Hamilton – signed Friday for the rest of the season – out.

Turkoglu celebrated his 36th birthday on Thursday, the day after his biggest game of the season.

Asked if he felt his age, Turkoglu said: "I did yesterday. it was a fun day yesterday. it was a long birthday, but it was fun."

Turkoglu has had much fun in his 15-year NBA career with six teams. The most impressive statistics is that he’s been on playoff teams in 10 of those 15 seasons. He believes he has plenty to offer still, even though others might not see it that way. 

"I’m old enough to see certain things, observe certain things and to move on," Turkoglu said. "In my career and my life, I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs and learned from those. Those are the little things, I don’t really pay attention. Tonight’s game, if I have a bad game, people will say something bad. Being an athlete, you have to face those kind of things. All I care is to prepare myself and come here and work. If they call my name (I’ll) come out here and compete and win some games."

He’s averaging 3.4 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10 minutes per game this season. He’s played in 49 of the Clippers’ 69 games. Before the season, Rivers told Turkoglu that if he got in shape, he would have a spot on the team for the second consecutive season. That happened.  

"Some people like you, some people don’t," Turkoglu said. "The good ones are going to say good things about you. The bad ones are always going to try to take you down. I guess I’m used to that. I’m just focused on my job and prepare myself the best way I can. When I get an opportunity I just try to do my best."

And that means knowing your limitations. 

When Turkoglu had a chance for an open dunk in Sacramento on Wednesday, he passed the opportunity for a safe shot. 

"I don’t want to embarrass myself," Turkoglu said with a laugh. "That would be embarrassing if i missed that. Let it in, it’s two points. I count that."

Matt Barnes, who turned 35 recently, jokes about Turkoglu’s age.

Hedo Turkoglu on not dunking yesterday and going for safe bucket. @laclippers @foxsportswest

A video posted by Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainterlopez) on

"Turk is old in moves, but he’s only one year older than me. He’s not that old," Barnes said. "He just looks old. Turk is one of those professionals. We knew coming into the season that he wouldn’t play a lot at the beginning of the season because we’d want to save him for this time. He’s a problem on the offensive end at the 3 or the 4. I was happy to see he got going. He’s been playing well in practice. I’m excited Turk is in the mix and going to be able to help us."

Turkoglu will turn 37 during the NBA next season. He hopes he has the chance to play again. 

"I love what I’m doing. I still want to play," Turkoglu said. "If I get an opportunity to play again i’ll try to do my best. If not, I think I’ve had pretty  much a decent career. Fifteen years. I’ll have plenty of time with my kids. I’d love to keep playing and still enjoy this great time."