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Bulls vs. Sixers final score: DeRozan out-duels Embiid, but Bulls lose

good effort but not enough

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The limitations of the Bulls injury-depleted rotation showed out in this afternoon contest, as the visiting Sixers led for pretty much the entire game despite the Bulls playing hard throughout. The Philly lead mostly hovered around 10 and they wound up winning with a 119-108 final score.

The Bulls really had little business even being in this game, but it was another fantastic DeMar DeRozan performance that made it interesting. Taking on even more of a load with Zach LaVine missing his 3rd straight, DeRozan finished with 45 and went 9-11 from the foul line. The Sixers were without their wing stopper in Matisse Thybulle for this one, and DeRozan performed his typical masterclass of mid-range shooting and foul-baiting.

But on the other side, in 9 fewer minutes, was Joel Embiid with 40 of his own and hitting one more free throw to go 10-11 from the charity stripe. The fellow MVP candidate was as dominant as expected, with Nikola Vucevic doing about as well as he could but being totally overmatched with Embiid could face up and head towards the basket.

Vuc finished with a solid 23 points on 18 shots, but struggled shooting from distance for much of the game until a triple helped get the Bulls within 4 before the end of the third quarter. Unfortunately the momentum broke and a couple broken possessions to end the quarter and then a strong start to the fourth for Philly saw the Sixers put on a 13-0 run and the lead back to (::checks math::) 17. It was a continuing trend in the game where the Sixers were actually winning the non-Embiid minutes, but then with Embiid still off the floor the Bulls responded with their own 13-0 run to wipe that out. After returning, Embiid took hold of the Sixers offense again as he kept them at a comfortable margin running slow possessions. The Bulls had to put shooting on the floor with DeRozan to try and keep up, but that just opened up their defense for the Sixers to maintain control. It never got closer than 6 in the final Embiid stint.

3-point shooting was a huge difference here, as the Bulls were getting some quality looks - especially for Vucevic and Matt Thomas - yet they shot a dismal 27% from three for the game. Meanwhile the Sixers were able to take advantage of Embiid’s gravity and hit 12-24, though no individual Sixer had more than 3 makes.

Beyond DeRozan and Vuc, it was a struggle to get much offense elsewhere when the threes weren’t dropping. JaVonte Green had his best game of the year with 17 and was huge in that Bulls 2nd half push with tip-ins and his sole made three-pointer. But the next highest scorer was Ayo Dosunmu with a mere 8 (on 3-8 shooting), though Ayo did continue his stellar point guard play with 7 assists to 1 turnover, plus another posterization:

Again, the Bulls played pretty well considering who they were throwing out there. They rebounded well, defended above their usual level, and took care of the ball. But they could not sink open shots and don’t have the players to create offense in other ways right now.

The Bulls need reinforcements, and have gotten a bit lucky in this last stretch of games in still racking up Ws while not really being that good. With how tight things are in the East standings - this loss clinched the Heat’s coaching staff going to the All-Star game - this loss plus a likely one tomorrow night as they host the league’s best record in the Suns will sting.