CHICAGO – Here are my key takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 116-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night at the United Center.
— The victory improved the Sixers to 31-25, marking the first time they’ve been six games over .500 since the 2011-12 season.
— The Sixers’ bench and perimeter defense were horrible. The reserves were outscored, 58-19, by the Bulls’ bench on a night when the Chicago took advantage of being left wide open on the perimeter. Bulls reserve forward Bobby Portis capitalized the most, scoring a career-high 38 points and making 6 of 9 three-pointers.
— Joel Embiid posted his 29th double-double of the season with 30 points and 13 rebounds.
— Ben Simmons did whatever he wanted against Kris Dunn and just about anyone else the Bulls assigned to defend the point guard. He scored 32 points on 13-for-18 shooting.
—Amir Johnson needs to look for his shot more to keep defenses honest. The reserve center is great at setting picks and doing the dirty work. However, he didn’t attempt a shot in 13 minutes, 28 seconds.
‘Best’ and ‘worst’ awards
— Best performance: Simmons gets this after his clutch foul shots gave the Sixers a 116-115 lead with 5.6 seconds left. The rookie also had a game-high 11 assists and seven rebounds to go with his team-high 32 points.
— Worst performance: I had to give this to Marco Belinelli. The new Sixers reserve guard missed four of his five shots – all three-pointers – en route to scoring five points. He also passed up several open looks in his 25:03 of action.
— Best defensive performance: This was an easy one. Embiid finished with game highs of four blocks and three steals. His steal with 5.9 seconds left set up what turned out to be Simmons’ game-winning foul shots.
— Worst statistic: This goes to the Sixers’ surrendering 21 points on 11 turnovers.
— Best statistic: I gave this to the Bulls’ shooting a season-best 52.9 percent (18 for 34) on three-pointers.
— Worst of the worst: Chicago’s inability to close out the game. Zach LaVine’s three-pointer gave the Bulls a 115-110 advantage with 1 minute, 2 seconds remaining. That was the last time they scored, missing their final five shots and committing a costly turnover.