The Bulls Monday took almost three quarters, but they finally avoided a potential embarrassment and defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 115-96.
The Bulls moved to 14-8 with their third straight win after three consecutive losses. The 76ers are 1-25.
The 76ers had the Bulls sweating in the first half with a 56-51 lead and late into the third quarter, trailing by just three points with about four minutes left in the quarter. But behind the aggressive all around play of Tony Snell, who probably had his most pugnacious and defiant game of his Bulls tenure, the Bulls went on a 26-1 run to put the game away.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 23 points while Snell had a season high 16 points and 11 rebounds, his second double/double of his career. Nikola Mirotic had 17 points with five three pointers and popular rookie Bobby Portis got a big ovation playing his first home game. Joakim Noah had 15 rebounds and eight assists and Pau Gasol had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Jahlil Okafor had 22 points for Philadelphia. Portis had seven points in just over four minutes.
Coach Fred Hoiberg tried to change things up again for his cautious starting group, this time forgoing the morning shoot around for a pregame skull session. But nothing much changed as the Bulls failed to score on their first five possessions and had six points midway through the first quarter. It helped it was the 1-24 76ers as the Bulls led 6-4. The Bulls then got Butler going, and after he and Gasol combined on a pair of lob slam dunks, the Bulls led 24-19 after one quarter with Butler providing 12 points.
The Bulls looked like they were about to put away a weak team to open the second quarter with threes from Mirotic and Doug McDermott for a 30-21 lead. But it was the 76ers outhustling the Bulls as they came out of a timeout with nine straight points to knock back the reserve group. The game then gained some pace, though more of it was from the 76ers. They moved ahead 56-51 at halftime with Okafor’s 16 points. Butler had 19 for the Bulls on eight of nine shooting, but Derrick Rose was scoreless with just one shot. Gasol was halfway to a triple double with nine points, five rebounds and six assists.
The third quarter was then a rare Snell-a-palooza as Snell had his quarter of the season—if not his Bulls careers—with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals. His energy and aggression led the Bulls on a 14-3 run to close the third quarter with an 85-68 lead. The Bulls started that run as Snell forced three consecutive 76ers’ turnovers. No fourth quarter collapse this time—at least not a fatal one--as the Bulls opened the fourth quarter with a 12-1 run behind more inspired hustle from Snell and a pair of Mirotic threes that made it a 26-1 Bulls run from four minutes left in the third quarter. That gave the Bulls a 97-69 lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.