While most of the country was focused on the Sweet 16 Friday Night, the NBA still offered a slate of 10 games. This included your Chicago Bulls, who faced off against the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. Coming off an 18-point win Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons, the Bulls hoped to earn their first “winning streak” since winning four straight back in February. This is a game the Bulls must win if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Despite the Bulls mediocre play, the UC was filled on Friday. Robin Lopez squared off against Richaun Holmes of Philadelphia, with Lopez winning the tip. Bulls basketball was on the air with Neil Funk and Stacey King. The first five minutes of the game were very much in the Bulls’ favor. They were able to jump out to a 16-6 lead, earning three assists on six field goals made. Nikola Mirotic started the game where he left off Wednesday, leading the Bulls early with seven points. However, the Sixers answered with going on a 6-0 run after they took a timeout at the 7-minute mark. This led Fred Hoiberg to take a timeout, hoping to break the Sixers’ run. Following the timeout, the Bulls jumped back out to an eight-point lead thanks to the work of Mirotic. Mirotic found Denzel Valentine for a three that hit nothing but net to give the Bulls that eight-point lead (26-18). However, the Sixers would answer the Bulls run (surprise). The quarter ended with the Sixers going on another 6-0 run, with the score 28-24. Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 11 points. He and Mirotic accounted for 21 of the Bulls 28 points.
The second quarter started out slowly for the Bulls. They started out the quarter two for seven and allowed the Sixers to get a six-point lead. That lead was cut down to as little as four, but the Bulls couldn’t regain the lead. Once Paul Zipser air-balled a three from a fairly good look, you knew things were about to get ugly. Sean Rodriguez, the backup point guard of the Sixers, was putting on a show. He helped Philly push their lead to nine, and had nine points in nine minutes played. The Bulls were letting the Sixers get to the basket at will, allowing 34 points in the paint at the 3:20 mark in the second quarter. At that stage in the game, the Sixers had 49 points. The minutes continued to shrink, and the Sixers lead continued to grow. After Rodriguez created his sixth assist of the game, the Sixers extended their lead to 17! Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers led the Bulls by 17 at the United Center. OK. Now that you read that again, let’s get back to the game. The final thirty seconds of the half were no different than anything else in the game thus far. At the end of the first half, the Sixers led 59-46, shooting an absurd 57.8 percent from the floor. Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 20 points. However, the only other Bull to be in double figures was Mirotic with 10.
The third quarter started out just how you thought it would. In the first two minutes of the quarter, the Sixers pushed their lead to 20. The point guards of the Sixers continued to cause trouble for the Bulls. T.J. McConell had four of the Sixers first four points in the quarter. It was getting so bad that Stacey King was comparing Rodriguez and McConell to John Stockton. This pathetic defense is just inexcusable against a team like the Sixers. With just under eight minutes to play in the third, the Sixers led by 22 POINTS, shooting 63 percent. The only bright spot was (take a wild guess) Jimmy Butler. However, Butler could only do so much. It was essentially one-versus-five. As a result, the score wasn’t in the Bulls favor. I would try and write something positive, but there was just no content. The Sixers continued to just shove their lead right down the Bulls’ throats. After three, the thrashing continued as the Sixers led 93-71. Butler had 31 of those 71 points. The Sixers had 66 (hey-hey!) points in the paint after the third.
The fourth quarter started out fairly well for the Bulls. They started out the quarter on a 9-4 run, which cut the lead down to 17. However, with only nine and a half minutes to play in the game, the Bulls would need to put on quite the show to make the entire comeback. The momentum was pushing in the Bulls favor. They continued to chip away at the Sixers’ lead, as they were able to cut it down to ten after Butler found Bobby Portis for a mid-range jumper. That assist was Butler’s eighth of the game, he was getting close to a double-double. However, this little spurt of momentum wasn’t enough. The Sixers did what they needed to do to not let the Bulls get back in the game and eventually came out with the win. The final score was 117-107. Butler finished with 36 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds.
This game was no different than any other Bulls game this season when facing a bad team. They didn’t show up to play, they got down big, tried to come back, and eventually lost. They continue to just go in circles, showing no signs of change. It’s unacceptable to be down 26 points against a team with the resumé of the Sixers, let alone your home court. With the loss, the Bulls fall to 34-39 on the season and are two games back of the Miami Heat for the eight seed. The Bulls are off until Sunday, where they’ll look to bounce back against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.