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In third season, Evan Turner is blossoming for 76ers

Sixers guard Evan Turner scored 12 points over 42 minutes during his team’s loss Bulls Saturday. | RHoskins~Getty Images

Sixers guard Evan Turner scored 12 points in over 42 minutes during his team’s loss to the Bulls on Saturday. | Ron Hoskins~Getty Images

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Updated: February 2, 2013 7:37PM



Chicagoan Evan Turner returned home as one of the big reasons why the Philadelphia 76ers have started off well despite playing without marquee offseason acquisition Andrew Bynum.

The former St. Joseph and Ohio State star has been a consistent all-around producer. He is averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists. That’s up from 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists last season.

‘‘He’s settling in. I’ve always said the third year is a huge jump for a player,’’ Sixers coach Doug Collins said. ‘‘I see Scottie Pippen walking around here and I think of Horace Grant and a lot of those guys — that third year, where their career goes, if they’re really going to be good. Evan has done that.’’

Collins said that Turner has improved at the mental aspect.

‘‘Evan is such a competitor. He’s looking for perfection, which you’ll never find,’’ Collins said. ‘‘What I’m trying to talk to him about is some of the plays that you don’t do as well as you like to, you’ve got to move on. If he drives to the basket and thinks he got fouled and doesn’t [get the call], not letting his body language show he’s disgusted and get back on [defense]. He’s done a much better job.’’

Turner’s explanation was more succinct: ‘‘More minutes,’’ he said. ‘‘More responsibility. More opportunity to mess up and learn. You’ve got to pay your dues.’’

Work paying off

The Bulls’ bench has a long way to go to match last year’s ‘‘Bench Mob.’’ But second-year forward Jimmy Butler is showing signs of becoming a key reserve.

Butler, coming off a career-best 13-point game against the Mavericks, is averaging 7.9 points in 20.5 minutes in the previous five games. It’s the minutes that mean the most, because Butler contributes in many ways.

‘‘I think Jimmy’s played well all season,’’ Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘‘And Taj [Gibson] the last four or five games is really coming on. That part has been very good.’’

‘‘All the hard work is paying off,’’ Butler said.



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