Sixers 8-game winning streak snapped by Chicago Bulls
PHILADELPHIA - Zach LaVine scored 26 points, DeMar DeRozan had 25 and the Chicago Bulls defeated Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers 109-105 in double overtime Monday night to snap their eight-game winning streak.
Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who have won three games in a row and five of six. Chicago is jostling for the final playoff spot in the East.
"We have a bigger goal in mind," DeRozan said. "We’re fighting for our life every game. We’re just playing with that desperation right now."
Embiid had 37 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks before fouling out with 3:54 left in the second overtime. It was the 10th straight game in which he has scored at least 30 points.
"Tonight could’ve been better," Embiid said. "Move on and learn from it."
The teams meet again in the second game of a home-and-home on Wednesday night in Chicago.
Philadelphia could’ve clinched a playoff spot with a victory, but the 76ers struggled once Embiid left the court after a foul on LaVine.
"We couldn’t get anything going offensively really the whole game," Embiid said.
Tyrese Maxey hit an elbow jumper and Tobias Harris followed with a baseline jumper to put the 76ers ahead 105-101 with 2:36 left in the second OT. But those were the last points Philadelphia scored, with Embiid only able to watch from the bench.
Maxey, who finished with 17 points, air-balled a pair of 3-point attempts and misfired on a drive. The 76ers still were down by just two late, but Derrick Jones Jr. blocked James Harden’s jumper and Harris missed on a chance. Coby White got the rebound and made two free throws with six seconds to play to clinch it.
"Our D kind of kept us in it," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said.
The 76ers had a chance to win in regulation, but Maxey’s 3 at the buzzer was off the mark.
Chicago could’ve ended it after the first overtime, but DeRozan’s 3 at the buzzer went off the heel of the rim.
Harden had one of his worst performances since joining the 76ers at the trade deadline last season, finishing with just five points while missing 12 of 14 shots, including all six 3-point attempts. He also had five turnovers.
Afterward, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers indicated that Harden’s foot was bothering him. Harden missed Saturday’s 141-121 win over the Pacers due to injury recovery.
Embiid has been stating his case for his first NBA MVP award all season. Denver’s Nikola Jokic has won the last two MVP’s, and Giannis Antetokounmpo claimed the previous two. Boston’s Jayson Tatum also is a strong candidate.
Rivers said the debate around the award is too vitriolic.
"Joel is the MVP," Rivers said. "I thought he was the MVP last year. But can we stop trying to put people down? All of them are great. We don’t need to put one down to elevate the rest."
The 76ers honored their 1983 championship team during a halftime ceremony. The team, led by Hall of Famer Julius "Dr. J" Erving met with the current team during shootaround on Monday morning. Rivers said it was a beneficial experience.
"It was really cool," Rivers said. "Great for me, great for our guys. Connecting teams and history is really important."
Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball had surgery for a cartilage transplant in his left knee.
"Everything went well," Donovan said.
Ball is out indefinitely after a third surgery on the knee in a little more than a year.
"He has a long road to recovery," Donovan said.
Ball hasn’t played in more than a year and Chicago ruled him out for the season last month. The 25-year-old former No. 2 overall draft pick averaged 13 points and 5.4 rebounds in 35 games with the Bulls in 2021-22.
Bulls: Alex Caruso (left foot) did not play. Caruso left in the second quarter of a 113-99 win over the Heat on Saturday night. … Javonte Green (right knee soreness) returned to the lineup after not playing against Miami. He was scoreless in nine minutes. … The Bulls improved to 14-21 on the road.
76ers: P.J. Tucker (left ankle) didn’t play. … Philadelphia fell to 26-11 at home. … Embiid had been 12-0 in his career against the Bulls.
Bulls: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
76ers: At Chicago on Wednesday night.