Mission accomplished for 76ers' Turner

Posted: May 25, 2012

The 76ers have looked for Evan Turner to grab rebounds, start the fastbreak when the opportunity presents, and to score more. It's something that Sixers coach Doug Collins has implored him to do.

But one of his more pressing assignments going into Wednesday's win-or-go-home Game 6 victory over the Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Center was to play a major role in helping to slow Boston's mercurial point guard Rajon Rondo.

Not an easy task in this series, which has seen Rondo, on top of averaging 14.4 points and 14.6 assists through five games, mostly control the tempo in just about every game.

A huge part of Turner's responsibility was to spread his 6-foot-7 frame out for long stretches of the game and impede Rondo's progress.

Mission accomplished.

Rondo was pedestrian at best on Wednesday, finishing the game with nine points on 4-of-14 shooting. His nine assists marked the first time in the series that he has not finished with at least 13 assists.

Collins gave assistant coach Michael Curry credit for formulating the defense that stopped Rondo.

"When you play Rondo you've got to give him different looks," Collins said. "He gets so settled in. I think we did a better job with some of the things that he likes to do. Our coverages were a little different and we didn't get strung out as much."

"I thought they clogged the paint up pretty well on [Rondo]," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought they used other guys, including Turner, to cut off the seams. But I also thought we hurt ourselves with our pace. We never established any pace to the game."

Turner's exhaustive defensive effort drained him of the energy to do just about anything else. Turner finished the game with 12 points, nine rebounds - second on the team behind Elton Brand's 10 - one assists and four turnovers.

But it was what he and the Sixers accomplished defensively that mattered.

That was Rondo, with the Sixers leading 78-72, fumbling the ball out of bounds with 1 minute, 18 seconds to play, giving the Sixers a fresh 24 seconds on the clock. And even though the Sixers did not convert, Boston didn't either. The Celtics allowed Andre Iguodala to sink a pair of free throws that helped to put the game out of reach.

Before the game the Celtics announced they would go with Ray Allen in the starting lineup in favor of Avery Bradley, who missed his second consecutive game with a sore left shoulder.

Allen will head to the Hall of Fame when his playing days are over, but right now he's a shell of his former self. The bone spurs in his right ankle make lateral movement almost impossible.

On Tuesday Sixers coach Doug Collins said the best way to attack a player with that type of injury is to force him to go side-to-side on defense.

Turner hasn't exactly been an offensive machine during this series, but with Allen assigned to him this appeared to be a game where he could break out.

The previous two games saw Turner score in double figures, but his shooting (10-for-35) has been anything but stellar.

By halftime on Wednesday, even with the Sixers struggling to hit shots from the field - they were just 14-for-35 from the field - Turner was off to a decent enough shooting start (3-for-5) that it didn't look too far out of the realm of possibility that the former No. 2 overall pick might put up some impressive numbers.

And while he never really got his offensive game untracked, that was less important than what he did at the defensive end.

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