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Turner thriving, helping Sixers lead Bulls

Associated Press Modified: May 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: May 5, 2012

What's happening on the other bench is quite remarkable.

On a big stage, Turner is showing why the Sixers chose him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. He's had plenty of ups and downs in his two seasons. Heck, he didn't even start Game 1 of this series.

But the Sixers have won two in a row with him starting. Turner had 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 109-92 win in Game 2. He followed that up with 16 points and nine rebounds in Game 3.

The highlight plays he made Friday night earned him style points, but his resilient effort on that play late in the game earned respect.

"His will to win was excellent," veteran Elton Brand said. "He wouldn't let us lose that game."

Turner hasn't lived up to expectations in his first two seasons, though part of the problem has simply been playing time and adjusting to a different role. Turner was The Associated Press Player of the Year as a junior at Ohio State before heading to the NBA. He averaged 20.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists while leading the Buckeyes into the round of 16 in the 2010 NCAA tournament.

Turner stepped into the starting lineup as a rookie in Philadelphia, but struggled early and appeared confused on the court at times. He was used to handling the ball in college, but Jrue Holiday is the point guard on the Sixers so the offense runs through him. Turner didn't adapt quickly to becoming a spot-up shooter and was benched after 18 games. At the time, The Sixers were 5-13. With Jodie Meeks, a dependable outside shooter starting at the two-guard spot, Philadelphia went 36-28 the rest of the way and earned a playoff berth.

Turner's minutes dwindled, but he showed potential at various points with productive games late in the season. He scored 15 points and 17 points off the bench in two playoff games against Miami, who won the series in five games.

After spending the summer refining his shooting skills with Herb Magee, the Hall of Fame coach at Philadelphia University, Turner figured to open the season as a starter. But Collins stuck with Meeks, because that lineup worked last year.

Turner was relegated to a reserve role again, and the Sixers started 20-9. No reason to make changes.

Then Philadelphia lost 8 of 10, and Turner went back in. He started 18 straight games before going back to the bench after a four-game losing streak. Following a 12-point loss to the Bulls in the playoff opener, Collins switched his lineup again. Turner has made the most of the opportunity.

"He is at his best in these kinds of games," Collins said.