It still counts even against the winless Philadelphia 76ers.
The Bulls Monday coasted in the second half to a 111-88 victory over the 0-7 76ers. The Bulls needed a break in moving to 5-3 after the disappointing overtime home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Bulls got a bounce back game from Nikola Mirotic after he’d averaged about four points and missed 12 of 13 threes in his last three games. Mirotic had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Doug McDermott had 18 points and Pau Gasol had 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. Derrick Rose had 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds while Philadelphia rookie Jahlil Okafor had 21 points and 15 rebounds. But Okafor shot nine of 25 and had about a half dozen shot attempts blocked.
The Bulls got a bit of a setback to start as Joakim Noah was set to start for the Bulls in place of slumping Nikola Mirotic. But Noah apparently came up with a sore left knee before the game and was kept out. Mirotic remained with the starters. But his aim didn’t improve as he missed his first two three-point attempts in the first half to go one of one of 17 in the last five games. The Bulls tried to go in the post early, inside/outside to Pau Gasol. But the kid 76ers rushed back for an early 12-9 lead. The Bulls then went on a 22-4 burst with Rose moving in to make mid range jump shots for a 31-16 lead that was 31-22 after one quarter.
But the Bulls bench with rookie Bobby Portis getting his first prime time with Noah out coughed up the lead with a display of poor shooting and soft attempts at the basket that enabled the 76ers to block six first half shots. Philadelphia prize rookie Jahlil Okafor also struggled with an unaggressive game with little lift and was two of 12 shooting in the first half, mostly unable to get over Gasol’s long arms. Doug McDermott found the range after the 76ers took a 40-37 second quarter lead and with Rose’s playmaking the Bulls took a 52-43 halftime lead while Gasol had four first half blocks on Okafor.
The Bulls got a pair of threes from Mirotic and a four-point play after a three from McDermott in a relatively poor shooting third quarter, though not as awry as the 76ers. That exchange of mostly misses enabled the Bulls to head into the fourth quarter leading 76-62. The Bulls were the sharper team at 35 percent as Mirotic finally broke out with 12 points in the third quarter.