The Philadelphia 76ers are playing to lock down a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Currently at 6th, the Sixers have fought their way back from the bottom of the standings, led by swingman and Illinois native, Andre Iguodala and credited to former Bulls coach, Doug Collins.
Starting the first half, the Bulls could not find any offense. Philadelphia did a great job on help defense in the post to prevent the Bulls from establishing anything in the paint. Philadelphia controlled the boards and Boozer couldn’t get his wheels moving. Joakim was pulled off the glass for most of the start, thanks to hot shooting from Philly’s bigs Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes.
Luol Deng and Omer Asik drew a lot of contact early on, but with no calls from the refs. For a large portion of the half, the referees swallowed their whistles and let both teams play. This allowed for older and slightly slower Elton Brand to make enough of a presence on the court, to stretch the floor for Thadeus Young, who exploded for 17 points in the half. After 2, Philadelphia leads 53-37
After a regroup, the Bulls came out in the 3rd quarter looking to play a faster line-up. When the clock hit 6:05 in the period, the Bulls finally hit the half-century mark after Derrick Rose decided to put the game into his hands. The Bulls went on a 14-6 run to close off the quarter. Kyle Korver caught a quick inbound pass with 2.2 seconds left and made a swish off-balance fadeaway from 21 feet. The Bulls were still down 69-64.
The late surge brought the Bulls within 4 before Derrick tweaked his ankle on an Elton Brand drive. He got up and walked off the pain, but he lost a step for the remainder of the game. With Derrick’s speed questionable, the Bulls failed to build momentum until the Sixers hot hand, Thaddeus Young slid while going after a lose ball. Young tweaked his hamstring and was pulled from the game with a little over 5 minutes left.
The Bulls were given every opportunity to take the momentum away from Philadelphia. They missed 12 free throws from the line and gave a lot of petty turnovers. The Bulls as a team went 1-9 from downtown. Aside from a good 3rd quarter from the Bulls, the Sixers controlled the game.
Derrick missed 3 of those attempts, and he also committed 10 turnovers(5 unforced). He finished with 31 points to lead all scores.
The Bulls give one up at home to Philadelphia, 97-85.
Next Game: Wednesday at Minnesota to play game 74 of the season.