Sixers Bullrushed in Chicago

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Chicago 121, Philadelphia 108 – Box Score

Philadelphia traveled to Chicago without star center Joel Embiid, leaving them absent the gravitational force that lifts the rest of the roster up. Sunday night, we saw that trickle-down effect manifest itself most strongly in the poor play from the bench, who dug holes so deep that Ersan Ilyasova, Robert Covington, and a fleet of Cat excavators couldn’t bring the Sixers out of them. In the end, the Bulls earned their 12th straight win over the Sixers.

The worst sequence was a 13-0 run in the final 90 seconds of the first quarter, which featured some incredibly bad turnovers by Sergio Rodriguez and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Jimmy Butler was a problem during that period and all night with 28 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals. The Sixers also allowed a full-court pass from Rajon Rondo to Nicola Mirotic under the basket for a lay-in with just 2 seconds left. It was all part of a 21-2 run through the second quarter that put the Bulls up 20.

In classic early-Process fashion, the Sixers fought back from their huge deficit valiantly, eventually tying the game back up at 81. Ersan Ilyasova scored a season-high 31 points, doing more than just jacking up threes by ferociously attacking the offensive glass. 5 of his 11 rebounds came on the offensive end, spinning garbage into gold more often than Rumpelstiltskin.

When he wasn’t mired in foul trouble, Nerlens Noel had a solid game on both ends of the court. He hit a couple mid-range jumpers and finished a sweeping hook for 12 points on 6-11 shooting. Noel also had 3 blocks, including this great reaction on a weakside block of Bobby Portis:

Speaking of Sixers who had 3 blocks, Robert Covington stuffed the stat sheet in front of friends and family from nearby Hillside, Illinois by adding 21 points on 4-7 three-point shooting, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He was on the receiving end of a beautiful feed from TJ McConnell, who also double-doubled with 14 points and 12 assists. Sorry LeBron, he’s all ours.

Unfortunately, that 81-81 tie was the last gasp for the Sixers, as Chicago finished the 3rd quarter with a 15-6 surge from which they would not look back. Dario Saric was out there for both major troughs, finishing the game with a -32 plus/minus in just 16 minutes of play.

The Sixers will be right back in action Monday night against the Kings, the makeup game from the infamous wet floor debacle. Joel Embiid is questionable with his knee injury. Hopefully, he’s back out there, but either way, swap rights!

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