In the Bonus | 02.22.18 vs Bulls

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

The following notes and nuggets were taken from the 76ers’ February 22nd 116-115 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Click here for a complete recap of the game, and be sure to check out our post-game pod below:

Bonus Points:

• Emerging from Chicago’s west side Thursday with a resilient triumph, the Sixers picked up their 19th “clutch” win of the season. The total is fourth-highest in the NBA, with Boston and Miami each owning a league-best 23 “clutch” victories. “Clutch” games, as defined by stats.nba.com, are those in which the point differential stands at five points or less within the final five minutes of regulation.

• One of the biggest subplots to emerge late in Thursday’s hard-fought contest was that the Sixers - specifically All-Star rim-protector and paint-clogger Joel Embiid - shut down Bobby Portis. The pick-and-popping third-year power forward from Arkansas had been an absolute menace for most of the evening, proving to be a particular thorn in the side of Embiid and the rest of the Sixers’ frontcourt. In the end, Embiid had the last laugh, putting a lid on the rim, and playing a major role in Portis misfiring on his last five shots.

• Pivotal for the Sixers in crunch time Thursday was their ability to get to the free throw line. Did they convert every attempt? No, but by virtue of simply toeing the stripe more often than Chicago did, the Sixers created extra scoring opportunities, all of which were vital in such a tight game. The Sixers went 8 for 13 from the line in Thursday’s fourth quarter, while the Bulls were 2 for 3. In the final five minutes of regulation, the Sixers went 6 for 10 on free throws, and Chicago 1 for 2.

• Ben Simmons’ game-clinching free throws were the culmination of a high-impact fourth quarter. He scored 9 points in the period, connecting on 3 of 5 attempts from the field and foul line alike. Among Simmons highlights from the fourth were a go-ahead and-1 that made it 103-101, and pair of impressive plays at the rim that trimmed the Sixers’ deficit to a possession. The Rookie of the Year candidate also snagged two rebounds in Thursday’s fourth quarter.

• Through the first six minutes of regulation Thursday, the Sixers were playing as if there had been no All-Star break at all. The squad jumped out to a 25-7 lead, showing zero signs of rust. During this stretch, the Sixers nailed 9 of 12 field goal attempts, were a perfect 5 for 5 from 3-point territory, and committed no turnovers. Chicago, conversely, was a meager 2 for 8 from the floor.

• Who was responsible for building the backbone of the Sixers’ big first-quarter lead? Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, not surprisingly. They teamed up for 14 points on 5 for 7 shooting in helping the Sixers to their early 18-point edge.

• There were points to be had in Thursday’s second quarter, for sure. One minute, the Sixers were up by eight. Moments later, they were in an end-to-end footrace to finish the half. Both the Sixers and Chicago shot 60.0 percent for the period (Sixers 12-20, Chicago 15-25), but it was the Bulls, behind an unconscious 9 for 12 effort from outside the arc, that stormed into the break with a 69-67 lead. The Sixers’ 67 points marked their fourth-highest first-half total of the season, while Chicago’s 69 points were the most the Sixers have given up in the first half this year.  

• In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Ben Simmons went into take-over mode, and Chicago’s Kris Dunn (no. 32) couldn’t hang.

Exhibit A…

Exhibit B…

Exhibit C…

After the play above, the Bulls tried David Nwaba on Simmons, but that didn’t work out, either. Simmons scored 8 points in less than six minutes amidst his third-quarter tear.

• The final basket of Ben Simmons’ aforementioned spurt came via a smooth, confident jumper at the elbow. To the naked eye, it’s seems like if the Aussie has been more comfortable putting up mid-range shots lately. Unofficially, we have him at 4 for 9 on mid-range attempts over the Sixers’ last two games.