The Bulls were in a shootout with the Sixers, and it looked like the win streak might be in jeopardy as the Bulls were down 8 with around four minutes to play. But that’s nothing when you have Nikola Mirotic:
After this Mirotic had a steal and called timeout. The Bulls wound pulling ahead after that and trading baskets a bit until ultimately a Ben Simmons drive was denied to preserve a 117-115 victory for Chicago, their 6th in a row and 6-0 with Niko.
Mirotic only played 26 minutes in this one with the frontcourt crowded after Lauri Markkanen returned to the starting lineup after missing the prior 3 games. Markkanen wasn’t very good in this game, going 4-11 from the field, but he did hit a huge three down the stretch as Hoiberg went to a froncourt combination with he and Mirotic to close.
Mirotic, the presumptive frontrunner for MVP(?!?!), finished with 22 points on 7-16 shooting with 13 rebounds. Equaling him for the team-high was Kris Dunn who was pretty phenomenal from start to finish, getting his 22 on 9-14 from the field. Dunn started out scorching from midrange as part of his 12 first-half points, and in the second half hit his first two threes in this winning streak (he missed his last 11 attempts), plus this beautiful step-back down the stretch.
Dunn was instrumental in a scorching 67-point first half for his team, which included Justin Holiday going bananas from three to get all twenty of his points in the first two periods.
It was actually a three-point barrage from both teams, as the Bulls were over 46% on 13-28 shooting, with the Sixers actually besting them in makes going 14-33 (42%). Philadelphia, playing without Joel Embiid, were either hitting triples, dunking, or throwing the ball away, and they finished with 20 turnovers. The feast or famine look was epitomized by Simmons, who had 19 points on 18 shots with 3 turnovers but man the 9 makes looked pretty great.
The Bulls deserve some credit for their defensive play at times, and were a pretty ferocious group in transition. Even when it didn’t look pretty (lots of BobbyPortisTime - and all that entails - throughout this game...) it was at least forcing the issue. And when the Bulls were down late, the defense held firm to propel that 14-2 late 4th quarter run and re-take the lead for good.
Bulls have another relatively soft schedule touch next as they host the Orlando Magic. The quest for 7-0 Niko will be Wednesday.