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76ers’ Evan Turner not affected by boos in his hometown

Evan Turner (third from left) Carlos Boozer exchange words third quarter. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Evan Turner (third from left) and Carlos Boozer exchange words in the third quarter. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: May 30, 2012 8:32AM

The boos rained down on the Philadelphia 76ers’ Evan Turner every time he touched the ball
Saturday at the United Center.

His rivalry with Bulls star Derrick Rose and his now-infamous ‘‘better matchup’’ quote last week have turned the St. Joseph High School graduate into Public
Enemy No. 1 in his hometown.

The remarkable thing is, it didn’t seem to bother him at all. Remember, this is a guy who was nicknamed ‘‘The Villain’’ in college — and that was by a teammate, Ohio State basketball player/blogger-turned-author Mark Titus.

Turner, who was born and raised just blocks from the United Center, finished with 12 points and five
assists. He didn’t start the game, but he impressed 76ers coach Doug Collins enough that he started the second half.

‘‘I thought Evan played well,’’ Collins said. ‘‘Evan is going to have to be out there for us. When you play against the Bulls, you have to have playmakers. Evan did a good job of that.’’

Then came the dust-up in the third quarter. With just more than four minutes left in the quarter, Turner and Bulls forward Carlos
Boozer got their arms tangled,
resulting in some pushing and shoving and lots of jawing between the teams.

A foul was called on Turner. Technical fouls were called on Rose, Bulls guard Rip Hamilton and 76ers forward Elton Brand.

At that point, any chance of Turner winning over his hometown crowd was over. He had
become ‘‘The Villain’’ that is a necessary component of any good NBA playoff series.

Turner took it all in stride, though, charming the media with some humor after the game and not exactly living up to his nickname.

‘‘I think it was just Boozer,’’ Turner said. ‘‘We bumped into each other, and he tried to come under my arm. He bumped me, like, twice. It wasn’t anything to go nuts about. I dodged a technical, and that was pretty much it.’’

Turner was more than complimentary about the Bulls and wished Rose, who suffered a
season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late in the game, the best.

‘‘They came out and played well,’’ Turner said. ‘‘They hit some good shots and got on a run. Hopefully, Rose is all right.’’

So how does a local kid, doing his best to carve out a spot for himself in the NBA, deal with the role of ‘‘The Villain’’? Are the fans going to get under his skin?

‘‘They are not playing on the court,’’ Turner said. ‘‘To tell you the truth, I only worry about my teammates, the opponent, the positive people — my family in the stands and stuff. I don’t worry about the people not on the court. You can’t worry about it.’’

None of Turner’s teammates said anything to bolster his ‘‘villain’’ reputation. In fact, he seemed to earn some respect with the way he handled himself Saturday.

‘‘He was a real professional,’’ 76ers forward Thaddeus Young said. ‘‘He just went out there and played basketball, didn’t let it get to him.’’

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