Bulls lethargic in loss to 76ers
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau watches as his team plays against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second half of Wednesday night's game at Philadelphia. The 76ers won 98-82.
To the Bulls, it seemed like they treated this game as merely the third stop of a long road trip, while feeling the strain of two missing starters.
For Philadelphia, it was the Super Bowl.
The 76ers were sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference standings, but heading into Wednesday night's action, they had played the league's softest schedule based on opponents' winning percentage.
So with the Bulls in town, the team and the city were ready. In front of a full house, a rare sight in Philadelphia the past four years or so, the Sixers dominated the third quarter and rolled to a 98-82 victory.
"I don't think we've gotten the respect yet from the outside," Sixers forward Andre Iguodala said. "We're starting to get there."
Sure, the Bulls were again missing Richard Hamilton and Luol Deng. While Deng is expected back soon, Hamilton likely will be sidelined for a few weeks as he continues to have trouble with a groin strain. The veteran shooting guard has missed 13 of the Bulls' 24 games.
"No excuses," Derrick Rose told reporters after the game. "We've still got to go out there and play these games and put forth the effort. And tonight it was clear that we didn't."
Coach Tom Thibodeau's biggest complaint was the team's 17 turnovers, which led to 29 Philadelphia points. Thibodeau's comment on that statistical nugget carried double meaning.
"Twenty-nine points off our turnovers — you can't make that up," he said.
"We're a deep team. It's one thing if you're playing great defense and you're rebounding and taking care of the ball and you miss shots. But when you're turning the ball over, you're beating yourself."
The Bulls (18-6) hung around in the first half and trailed 49-44 at intermission. That was mostly thanks to Rose, who got to the basket repeatedly to produce 15 points and 6 assists by halftime. He finished with just 18 points, however. C.J. Watson ended up as the team's top scorer with 20.
In the third quarter the Bulls missed 9 of their first 10 shots, turned the ball over frequently, and were outscored 26-11.
By the time Jrue Holiday canned a 3-pointer with six seconds left, the Sixers led by 20 and Thibodeau kept most of the starters on the bench in the fourth quarter. The Bulls got the lead down to 12 points with 6:13 left, but it didn't matter.
"Our starters were so lethargic in the third," Thibodeau said. "Quite honestly, if we had gotten it closer I was going to finish with the group we had in there because they were fighting to get us out of the hole."
Defending Rose was a dominant topic of Philadelphia coach Doug Collins' postgame interview. Collins also stated a belief that Rose was feeling under the weather and not quite himself Wednesday.
"When you play against Derrick Rose, you have to do everything in your power to try to keep him away from the basket and out of that paint," Collins said. "This was a game where our big men did a tremendous job."
"We were out there sluggish," Rose added. "The energy wasn't there. I really can't explain it."
Iguodala and Thaddeus Young scored 19 points each to lead the Sixers (16-6).
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