Out-rebounded. Out-hustled. Out-shot. Those three adjectives described the Philadelphia 76ers through three quarters of play on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, but the one that stood out was “clutch” as they stormed back late in the game to stun the Chicago Bulls, 79-74. The win gives them a 2-1 series lead over the Eastern Conference’s #1 seed, missing star point guard Derrick Rose who was lost to a leg injury in Game 1.
Center Spencer Hawes scored ten of his team-high 21 in the final frame, giving the Sixers their first lead of the quarter with two minutes left on a deep jumper.
The game was sloppy throughout, with the teams combining to shoot 34.9% and committing 46 personal fouls.
At the start of the first quarter, the two teams played lockdown defense. The teams took turns making small runs, but a John Lucas buzzer-beater gave the Bulls a 20-19 advantage at the break.
The second quarter consisted of the same back-and-forth play, with each team going stretches without scoring and the defensive intensity staying high. Midway through the quarter, a Lucas three-pointer put the Bulls up by as much as 7, but Evan Turner helped the 76ers chip away until they finally took a one point lead heading into the locker rooms.
Philadelphia, the best third quarter team in the NBA, found themselves in an uncomfortable situation as the third quarter began to slip away from them. Joakim Noah completely dominated the paint, grabbing rebound after rebound and scoring at will early on. However, only four minutes into the period, he slipped and hurt his ankle on a coast-to-coast play. He would return for a little bit, but leave later in the game due to his ankle injury.
In the short term, Noah’s absence didn’t seem to put a dent in any of Chicago’s offensive momentum. They got contributions from Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Omar Asik, and Taj Gibson late in the third, allowing them to take a 60-51 lead heading into the final frame.
Contrary to what has happened all season, the Sixers dominated the fourth quarter. It took a while for them to get started, however, because of Chicago’s offensive rebounding. The crowd groaned play after play as the Bulls capitalized on second-chance opportunities with jumpers from Gibson and Lucas. When Noah left the game for good, however, the Sixers big men found their second wind.
Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, and Hawes facilitated the Sixers comeback while Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young played excellent defense to keep the Bulls at bay. Late in the game, even with a Lucas three-pointer, Turner and Holiday were able to ice it with clutch free-throw shooting (7-8, 87.5%).
For the 76ers, four players pretty much made up the entire offense. Hawes scored 21 and grabbed 9 rebounds while Turner added 16, 9 boards, and 7 assists. Holiday scored 17, grabbed 6 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists while Sweet Lou added fourteen of his own. Thaddeus Young led the team with 11 rebounds.
Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton were fantastic in the first three quarters for Chicago, finishing the game with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and 17, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists respectively. Lucas and Noah each had 12 points as well.
All in all, this was a lucky scenario for the Sixers. They only shot 34.2% from the field, and 1-14 (7.1%) from the 3-point land. 1-14. If they want to continue their success in Games 4 and 5, they will need to shot the long ball better than they did on Friday night.
Game 5 is Sunday at 1 PM.
Stat of the Game: Sixers Turnover Battle: +7
The fact that the Sixers were able to control their turnover rate, even though they played a sloppy game, was crucial near the end of the game. They were out-rebounded by a lot, but kept their composure and took advantage of every possession.
Moment of the Game: Spencer Hawes Jump Shot (2:11)
This gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game, and sent the Wells Fargo Center crowd into a frenzy. It led to another defensive stop and got the team fired up.
Player of the Game: SG Evan Turner (Philadelphia)
Hawes had the scoring numbers in the fourth quarter, but it was Turner’s tenacity, free-throw shooting, and facilitating ability that got Philadelphia the win.