Behind a very quickly-earned triple double from Ben Simmons and lot of three pointers, the Sixers pretty thoroughly outgunned the Bulls in a bad 115-101 loss Wednesday night. Having no dependable point guards with Kris Dunn still out is a clear handicap, but it really was team-wide futility in this one.
The Bulls found themselves in an early hole, starting 0/7 from the field and being on the wrong end of a 22-9 deficit. Some bench contributions from Niko and Portis had the Bulls close at one point in the half until the Sixers went on another run in the half to get back up 14. The Bulls shot 32% overall and 2/19 from three in that first half, while the Sixers 7-16 from distance in the first two periods.
Within the first minute of the second half, Ben Simmons assisted two three-pointers and had his triple double already, and with his team now up 20.
Meanwhile the opposing point guard, Jerian Grant, continued his struggles. The Bulls wound up alternating who would bring the ball up and Hoiberg even went with a PG-less lineup to start the second half, with David Nwaba starting for Grant and LaVine handling a lot of the ball-handling duties.
It’s becoming apparent that the addition of LaVine coupled with the loss of Dunn has really hurt the Bulls defense. The new starting lineup had put the Bulls in a 25-point hole.
LaVine got totally lost on this play. Was supposed to guard TLC in the corner, then a bad recovery onto Simmons. pic.twitter.com/5bJQOiFQgD— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 25, 2018
The 4th was more of the same, giving effort but not executing well at all, especially defensively. Some of the bench (of which Grant was now a member) started hitting a few threes, and the Sixers have coughed up some big leads this year, but they maintained a fairly safe distance throughout. I mean, there were lineups like Grant/LaVine/Valentine/Mirotic/Portis so really at that point you’re just hoping the other team misses. To add injury to insult, Grant received a blow to the face by Joel Embiid and had to leave the game.
A few Bulls got over double-figures in the extended garbage time (or at least, call it...relatively-little-pressure time?), but nobody truly had a very good overall game. LaVine had 21 points on 8-15 shooting in his minutes-restricted night. Lauri Markkanen broke out of an 0-15 three-point slump but was mostly quiet and finished with 12. Bobby Portis somehow was a +21 in BobbyPortisTime and continues to put up numbers while I grit my teeth (maybe another 100 good games and I’ll start to believe?). Mirotic took 15 shots to get his 15 points and hopefully no other teams saw some bad Niko habits creeping in there tonight, and still values him at a first-round pick.
The Bulls last offensive possession was that Bryan Arrivederci guy (18 minutes, scoreless) airballing an alley-oop to Cristiano Felicio.
For the Sixers, Embiid had 22 in his first look against the Bulls this season, showing off his superlative touch around the basket. Simmons wound up with a gaudy line of 19 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists. Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and ::copy:: ::paste:: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot all had four 3-point makes. They wound up as a team hitting 16-32 from beyond the arc while the Bulls did creep up to near 30% but it was far too late to matter.