PHILADELPHIA -- The road-weary Chicago Bulls conclude a six-game trip Friday night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Along the way they have learned a great deal about themselves.
"How together we are, man," veteran guard/forward Jimmy Butler told the Chicago Tribune. "We win, we lose but it's together. Everybody is going to smile tomorrow because we're fortunate and we're blessed to play this game and to be around one another. I've learned that everybody in here is in high spirits and that's what we need."
The Bulls revamped their roster in the offseason, notably signing free agent guards Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo and acquiring center Robin Lopez from the New York Knicks in a trade involving guard Derrick Rose. They also jettisoned free agents Pau Gasol and and Joakim Noah, who landed with San Antonio and New York, respectively.
They are nonetheless off to a 9-6 start, and have already played 10 games away from home. They are 5-5 in those games, and have won three of five on their current trip.
"I like the resiliency our guys have shown, especially after that tough loss against the Clippers (on Saturday night) to bounce back with the next night against the Lakers," coach Fred Hoiberg told the Tribune. "These guys have really bought into the chemistry piece and I think that's the reason we've had some success early on."
Butler, a two-time All-Star, is averaging a career-high 25.8 points a game, 10th-best in the league. He scored 35 in Tuesday's loss in Denver.
The 34-year-old Wade, who spent 13 years with the Miami Heat before signing with Chicago, is averaging 18.4 points. Rondo, playing for his third team in as many years after spending his first eight seasons with the Boston Celtics, has norms of 7.9 points, 7.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds.
Lopez averages 9.7 points and 7.9 rebounds.
The Sixers (4-11) lost 104-99 in double overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, despite 22 points and 12 rebounds from Ersan Ilyasova. Rookie center Joel Embiid scored 12 points with 11 boards. He did not play in the second extra period, however, because he exceeded by three the 24-minute limit the team has imposed upon him, after a pair of foot surgeries deprived him of his first two seasons.
Embiid kicked a chair in anger when he learned he would be unable to continue.
"It was frustrating but those (medical) guys care about me and are looking out for me," he said later.
Embiid, who has also been held out of four games to date, was given a choice as to whether to play Wednesday or Friday, and decided to suit up against Memphis so he could test himself against Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies' outstanding center. He will not, as a result, face Chicago.
The Sixers are without forward Ben Simmons (foot), the top overall pick in the last draft, and center/forward Nerlens Noel (knee), neither of whom has played this season.
Chicago forward Doug McDermott is in the concussion protocol and will not play until the end of the month. Guard Michael Carter-Williams, a former Sixer, has missed all but three games this season because of a bone bruise in his left knee, and forward Paul Zipser is questionable Friday with a back injury.
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