Bulls Top Sixers, Move Into Eighth Spot
Chicago 99, Philadelphia 92
PHILADELPHIA, April 5 (Ticker) -- Andres Nocioni and the Chicago Bulls wanted eighth place a little more than the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nocioni and Ben Gordon scored 21 points apiece as the Bulls survived a late rally to post a 99-92 victory over the struggling Sixers and move into the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Fresh off their come-from-behind win against Indiana on Tuesday, Chicago took control early and led by as many as 17 points early in the second quarter.
"We walked out of the gate looking like we were the ones in the mud," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "They were faster than us and they kept us on our heels."
"We just played our game," said Bulls guard Chris Duhon, who had 13 points and six assists. "We knew the importance of this and we felt that they had all the pressure. We knew that we could come out, be relaxed and play our game."
Holding a 71-60 lead after three quarters, the Bulls watched the lead dwindle to 91-86 with 65 seconds left after Allen Iverson made two free throws.
However, Nocioni made a layup 13 seconds later to push the bulge back to seven and the Bulls sank 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
"We played hard all night," Nocioni said. "We played with intensity and we played a great four quarters. We kept working and we won a huge game for us."
"My guys almost every night battle really hard," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "They've had a lot of things go against them in late game situations and we haven't been able to seize the moment. Lately, we've been able to do that and our guys appear to growing up as a team."
Gordon had five assists and Nocioni added 13 rebounds to give him his fifth straight double-double. Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng scored 14 points each and Tyson Chandler collected 15 rebounds for Chicago.
Iverson had 26 points and seven assists and Webber 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for Philadelphia, which lost for the ninth time in 12 games.
"They made a conscious effort not to let me beat them," Iverson said. "Every time I drove to the basket I had three or four guys collapsing on me and obviously it was a good game plan for them.
"I got us off to a bad start from the beginning of the game. The magnitude of the game and being in so many games like that, for me to be the one to act like I had never been in a game like that it was unacceptable. I full take responsibility for this one."