The Chicago Bulls took advantage of Joel Embiid’s absence to clinch a second straight win over an Eastern Conference powerhouse, taking down the Philadelphia 76ers in a 126-112 road win Friday.
Zach LaVine dropped 11 3-pointers — the second-most in franchise history — and scored 41 points to lead the Bulls. The Bulls snapped another major winning streak, handing the 76ers their first loss in 13 games. The Bulls are 12-13 against teams with a .500 record or better.
- The 76ers were undersized without Embiid, who missed his second straight game with a left foot injury. Embiid is 12-0 against the Bulls in his career. Without Embiid, Bulls center Nikola Vučević had an encumbered path to the rim. Vučević recorded 19 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
- Despite falling behind by as many as 13 points early, the Bulls ended the first half with a 28-11 run to take a 59-55 lead into the locker room. The Bulls adjusted to slow the drive-and-kick plays that buoyed the 76ers in the first quarter, holding them to three makes from behind the arc in the second quarter after giving up six 3-pointers in the opening quarter.
- The Bulls scored 40 points in the third quarter to take a 15-point lead — 35 of which were scored by LaVine and Williams. Williams went scoreless in the first half after a season-high 22-point performance against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, but he scored seven points in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter. He finished with 18 points, 16 of which were scored in the third. LaVine made his first eight 3-point attempts and went 5-for-6 in the third quarter, finishing 11-for-13 from behind the arc.
- The 76ers opened the game hot from behind the arc to counteract their lack of size, going 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the opening quarter to take a 30-25 lead. This continued until midway through the second quarter, when the Bulls finally woke up from their sluggish defensive start.
- With catch-and-shoot jumpers beginning to rain in the second half, the Bulls moved away from feeding the post heavily down the stretch. This allowed the 76ers to claw back within seven points in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a comeback the Bulls quelled on their way to the win.
It’s rare for the Bulls to outshoot an opponent from behind the 3-point arc — and even more surprising given that the lack of Embiid forced the 76ers to focus heavily on their long-range shooting.
But the Bulls managed to outshoot the Sixers 60-54 from behind the arc, going 20-for-34 (58.8%). LaVine accounted for 11 of those 3-pointers, which mostly consisted of his signature catch-and-shoot look from behind the arc.
“Once I got it going, the basket looked like an ocean,” LaVine said.
- Alex Caruso did not play in a game-time decision after spraining his right ankle against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. Caruso has missed six games this season after missing 41 games in 2021-22 because of a litany of injuries to his foot, ankle, wrist and back.
- Javonte Green missed a third consecutive game with a bone bruise in his right knee. Green has been sidelined for 11 of the last 17 games, and the Bulls do not have a timeline for his return despite him meeting with a specialist Tuesday.
The Bulls improved to 18-21 and are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls return home to face the Utah Jazz on Saturday night at the United Center.