Bulls stay competitive, but losing streak hits five

Competitive losses won't do much to move the rebuild forward, but the Bulls kept things surprisingly close at Philadelphia on Sunday.

Zach LaVine was a question mark until just before tipoff because of a stiff neck. He finally took the court with medical tape running up both sides of his neck and poured in 32 points with 8 assists.

The Bulls stayed even with the 76ers for three quarters, but never led in the fourth and lost 118-111. The Bulls' losing streak reached five games, while Philadelphia improved its league-best home record to 24-2.

LaVine is one of three Bulls to play in every game this season, along with Tomas Satoransky and Coby White.

"It says a lot for his maturity and his development," coach Jim Boylen told reporters after the game. "I met him at the bus this morning at 9:30. He was the only guy that went over and shot and he got himself ready to play, got himself loosened up. I thought he played great. I'm proud of him. His habits are really good.

"That's what big-time guys do. If you would have saw the way he looked yesterday and how he was moving to how he fought through today, it was a great thing for us and a great thing for him."

This was an interesting game for the Bulls' big men, working against Sixers all-star starter Joel Embiid. At the end of three quarters, Bulls center Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio had a combined 27 points, compared to 16 by Embiid. Both Bulls were in foul trouble, though.

Embiid opened the fourth quarter by scoring the first 4 points on a post hook and offensive rebound, giving Philadelphia the lead for good. Embiid finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Kornet ended up with a career-high 25 points, knocking down 4 of 8 attempts from 3-point range. Kornet's 3-pointer with 1:15 left brought the Bulls within striking distance at 114-109. That basket happened shortly after Thaddeus Young absorbed a court-shaking collision to draw a charge on Embiid.

"One of the films I watched when we were thinking of acquiring Luke were his games against Embiid," Boylen said. "He played well and he battled him. Luke's getting better. He's done a good job and he's kind of who we thought he could be."

But Embiid had the answer, draining a 3-pointer of his own as the shot clock expired to put the Sixers in command 117-109 with 39 seconds left.

"It's probably the shot we would want them to take and he makes it," Boylen said. "I thought we played hard, I thought we played together, I thought we got a lot from a lot of guys. I really liked our spirit and togetherness. I thought it was great."

Felicio was the Bulls' third-leading scorer with 13 points, while Young and Satoransky added 10 points each.

The Bulls ran into an old nemesis in Sixers small forward Furkan Korkmarz. The last time these teams met on Jan. 17, the Turkey native scored 24 points, which was his season-high until he poured in 34 on Friday against Memphis. On Sunday, he scored 31 points, while hitting 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range.

During Sunday's first quarter, Korkmarz let loose for 17 points, hitting 4 of 5 attempts from 3-point range. The Bulls trailed 38-25 after one quarter as Philadelphia shot 62 percent from the field.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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