Although home openers haven't been very kind to the Chicago Bulls lately, they're still a lot better than another game in New Jersey.
The Bulls look to rebound from a season-opening loss Friday night when they face the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center.
Chicago began its season Wednesday at the Meadowlands, where it had lost 11 straight. Although the Bulls rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to force overtime, they never led in the extra period and fell 112-103.
Ben Gordon had 27 points and Luol Deng added 22 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which may have been distracted by persistent Kobe Bryant trade rumors.
General manager John Paxson did his best Thursday to dispel those rumors involving Bryant and the Bulls.
"There's not a deal done,'' he said. "There's not going to be a deal done. All the things that were out there were really unfair to all of us who were trying to do our jobs. The misinformation ... I think gets in the way of the process. It's just such a complicated thing and we kind of put it to rest now.''
Trade rumors, though, weren't the only reason why the Bulls dropped their first game. They shot 39.6 percent (38-of-96) from the field, committed 16 turnovers and were outscored 37-19 from the free-throw line.
Gordon - a natural shooting guard - was responsible for six of those turnovers while filling in at the point for Kirk Hinrich, who played only 25 minutes before fouling out. Chris Duhon later took over at point guard and contributed 10 points and six assists in 30 minutes.
"It was definitely a good effort, but we just waited too long to turn it on for some reason,'' Gordon said. "We have to be more consistent. We should have had more energy to come out on opening night. There's no excuse for that.''
Chicago has lost seven of its last nine home openers, including last season's 89-88 defeat to Sacramento. The Bulls haven't opened 0-2 since starting 2004-05 with nine consecutive losses.
Unlike Chicago, very little is expected from Philadelphia, which started a season without Allen Iverson for the first time in 12 years.
Despite a strong game from emerging star Andre Iguodala, the 76ers dropped their opener 106-97 at Toronto on Wednesday.
Iguodala scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half and grabbed eight rebounds for Philadelphia, which nearly erased a 22-point third-quarter deficit.
"If we can put a 48-minute game together we are an OK team, we are not bad at all," Iguodala said. "We just have to go out and play hard for all 48 minutes."
Going 17-9 to close last season proved the 76ers can win without Iverson, but they need to find offense from someone other than Iguodala to be successful over the course of a full season.
The next best option is Kyle Korver, who scored 20 points on 7-of-12 from the field against Toronto. Korver, though, is primarily a shooter and is not known for the ability to create his own shot.
Iguodala is the only player on Philadelphia's roster that has averaged more than 17 points in a season. Point guard Andre Miller averaged 16.5 in 2001-02 with Cleveland.
The Bulls have won six of the last nine meetings with the 76ers, including two of three last season.
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