Sixers fall to Bulls, 93-88
CHICAGO - When the 76ers upset the Chicago Bulls last year in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, reigning league MVP Derrick Rose garnered most of the attention as he missed all but Game 1 of the six-game series due to injury.
To a lesser degree, the absence of center Joakim Noah, who missed Games 3 through 6, didn't receive nearly as much attention, despite the fact that Noah is probably the Bulls' second-best player.
However, in the first game between the teams since last spring, Noah finished with 13 rebounds, 12 points and seven assists as the Bulls (7-7) defeated the Sixers (10-7), 93-88, at the United Center on Saturday.
Jrue Holiday, with 16 of his team-high 23 points in the second half, led the Sixers in scoring. Thaddeus Young finished with 22 points, and Evan Turner added 12 points for the Sixers, who saw their three-game winning streak halted.
Noah's effort was just one of a few good performances by the Bulls. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 25 points and Carlos Boozer finished the game with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Coatesville's Richard Hamilton also scored 15 points for the Bulls.
Chicago carved out a 50-37 rebounding advantage, and they also had 28 assists compared to just 17 for the Sixers. But after the Sixers recovered from an eight-point deficit in the second quarter they never let the Bulls build a double-digit lead.
"I thought our guys played hard and did as much as we could to win the game," Collins said. "A couple possessions here and there and we could have won the game. If we play that hard every night we'll find some ways to scratch some games out."
The Sixers trailed by just three points with 19.9 seconds to play in the game until the Bulls' Nate Robinson made the second of two free throws to give the Bulls a 90-86 lead. The Sixers' Young responded with a quick bucket to pull the Sixers, out of timeouts, to within a basket with 16.0 left.
But the Sixers never scored again. Meanwhile, Hamilton, with the Sixers forced to foul, nailed three more free throws.
About 45 minutes before the start of the game it was announced that the Sixers would be without the services of reserve swingman Nick Young. Young sat out the game with what was termed a left great toe hyperextension. The degree of severity was not known at game time.
However, following the game Nick Young labeled himself as 'day-to-day.
Notes. Sixers coach Doug Collins weighed in on the $250,000 fine levied against the San Antonio Spurs by the NBA for benching Tim Duncan, Tony parker, Manu Ginobili and key reserve Danny Green against the Heat on Friday.
"We give our guys as much rest as possible," Collins said. "Tomorrow [Sunday] they have the day off. When we need to have a good, hard practice we'll have a good, hard practice. We play a lot of games and we try to keep our guys minutes down.
"But Gregg Popovich has four championships, so I'm pretty sure he's aware about how he wants to handle his team," Collins said.