The lowly Philadelphia 76ers apparently hadn’t been told they were supposed to lose. So after falling behind by 10 points in the first quarter, the 76ers delivered a crushing blow to the Bulls playoff hopes with a 117-107 Philadelphia victory.
The 76ers came in next to last in the Eastern Conference. But they ran up a 26-point third quarter lead with an aggressive, attacking game and held on after the Bulls pulled within 10 points early in the fourth quarter. The 76ers had a stunning 70 points in the paint in exposing the Bulls defensively.
The Bulls fell to 34-39 in losing for the ninth time in the last 12 games. The 76ers are 27-45.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 36 points and 11 assists in trying to keep the Bulls in the game. Bobby Portis had 17 points, Nikola Mirotic 15 points and Anthony Morrow 10.
The 76ers got a big game from Rookie of the Year contender Dario Saric with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Rookie Shawn Long had 18 points.
Cristiano Felicio was out along with Dwyane Wade with Joffrey Lauvergne stepping in as backup center after his impressive game against Detroit. Robin Lopez was back from his one-game suspension for fighting. The Bulls were fighting to keep another streak going, having won 12 straight over the 76ers after having their streak broken of 11 straight wins over Toronto. The Bulls got off to a fast start, forcing three turnovers for fast breaks and a pair of Mirotic threes for a 16-6 lead five minutes into the game. The 76ers closed the first quarter strong with perimeter shooting to get within 28-24 after one quarter. The Bulls reserve unit then was overwhelmed, playing casually with multiple turnovers and giving up easy penetration. The result was a 10-0 76ers run and 17-4 through the end of the first quarter for a 38-32 Philadelphia lead with 7:16 left in the half. Reserve Sergio Rodriguez came off the bench and proved unstoppable, continually driving by every Bulls defender as the 76ers ran out to a 53-41 lead with 2:20 left in the first half. It continued to go downhill with the Bulls outworking and outhustling the Bulls, who had to revert to Butler’s individual play for offense. The 76ers led 59-46 at halftime after a 35-point second quarter. Butler’s 20 first half points kept the Bulls in the game. Butler and Mirotic were a combined nine for 19 in the first half. The rest of the team was seven of 30 with starters Lopez and Paul Zipser a combined one for 11. The 76ers had a 27-19 first half rebounding lead. Every Bulls reserve was at least a minus-10 in plus/minus ratings in the half. The 76ers had a first half 40-16 margin in points in the paint.
The 76ers then came out to start the second half piling on for a 67-47 lead with four straight inside scores against the Bulls withering defense. The Bulls could do little to stop the 76ers, who continued to score easily with multiple layups and dunks and led 75-53 with 7:51 left in the third quarter. The 76ers’ shocking domination continued with one driving score after another and an 81-57 Philadelphia lead midway through the third quarter. The 76ers led 93-71 and were shooting more than 60 percent through three quarters in a devastating domination of the Bulls. The Bulls led by Butler finally showed some passion to open the fourth quarter with a 11-4 run to cut their deficit to 15 with 9:22 left in the game.