LaVine's hot long-range shooting ends Bulls losing streak vs. Sixers

What's the best role for Zach LaVine on the Bulls?

How about do some "Zach LaVine things" more often?

As a two-time slam dunk champ and one of the best athletes in the NBA, doing spectacular things should be commonplace.

He had a breakthrough Friday in Philadelphia, hitting 11 of 13 shots from 3-point range for 41 points as the Bulls ended a couple of long streaks with a 126-112 victory.

The Bulls had lost 12 in a row to the Sixers and Philadelphia was riding an 11-game streak at home. The Bulls hadn't won in the Land of Cheesesteaks since April 6, 2017, when Nikola Mirotic, Jimmy Butler, Jerian Grant and Joffrey Lauvergne led them to victory.

Of course, one streak did not end.

Perennial MVP contender Joel Embiid is still 12-0 in his NBA career against the Bulls because he did not play due to left foot soreness.

Alex Caruso (ankle) and Javonte Green (knee) sat out for the Bulls.

This was LaVine's third game with 10 made 3-pointers. He's tied for second-place for most in a single game with 13, one behind the 14 Klay Thompson made at the United Center in 2018.

"You just fall into it," LaVine said after the game.

"I'm confident with all the shots I take, and eventually you make a couple in a row, you're like, 'OK.' After that it's just target practice."

LaVine's signature game remains his 49 points on Nov. 23, 2019 when he went 13-for-17 from 3-point range in Charlotte and hit the game-winner after a steal in the final seconds. He went 10-for-16 from 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers in an empty Staples Center on Jan. 10, 2021.

LaVine made his first 8 attempts of the night from long range, which brought back memories of Ben Gordon setting an NBA record by going 9-for-9 in a game in 2006. But LaVine's ninth attempt hit the side of the backboard for his first miss.

Golden State's Steph Curry is the only other player to make 11 of 13 3-pointers, which happened in 2013 in New York.

With Embiid missing, the Bulls took advantage of a small 76ers lineup. Center Nikola Vucevic piled up 14 points and 12 rebounds in the first half.

When the third quarter began, the Bulls forgot all about Vucevic, but LaVine hit 5 straight 3s to score 19 points in the quarter and Patrick Williams, after a scoreless first half, went 7-for-7 from the field for 16 points in the third.

"This is what I was saying earlier about liking the group," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. "DeMar (DeRozan) is an elite scorer, Vuc is an elite scorer. They understand a guy like Zach has got it going and they're going to try to find him, put the ball in his hands and see if he can make those kinds of plays.

"Even when they started trapping him, he generated shots for us by throwing the ball into the middle of the floor and the next guy was able to make the next play."

Vucevic finished with a triple-double of 19 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists, Williams had 18 and DeRozan had a relatively quiet night with 12.

The Bulls (18-21) trailed by 13 early, rallied to lead by 4 at halftime and the 76ers never made a serious threat late. Tyrese Maxey led Philadelphia with 26 points. The Bulls are now 9-2 this season against Philadelphia, Boston, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Miami.

"At our best, we showed what we can be last year," LaVine added. "We were the number one team in the East. At our best, we're one of the best teams in the league."

The Bulls have a short turnaround, hosting Utah on Saturday at the United Center.

The Jazz haven't played since Thursday when ex-Bull Lauri Markkanen piled up a career-high 49 points against Houston.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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