Sixers earn first season win streak, beat Bulls 114-109

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts after scoring a three point basket to give his team the lead in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

On a night when the Phillies and Astros were on display in the World Series, the Philadelphia 76ers had business to take care of in Chicago. The Sixers entered the night seeking their first win streak, coming off a big road win in Toronto, where Tyrese Maxey exploded for 44 points.

After missing that Raptors matchup on Friday, Joel Embiid returned to action, trying to elevate his team’s place in the standings.

The game started out with Embiid getting fed in the post. There was also plenty of playmaking from James Harden, seeking to engage teammates early and often. The pick-and-roll was implemented between Harden and Embiid, resulting in several layups for the Sixers’ big man. 

The first substitution for Philly was Matisse Thybulle off the bench, hoping he could build on his previous night’s success.

Tobias Harris was looking for his shot, pulling the trigger quickly, as the Sixers went up 19-7. Embiid kicked to Harris for a 3-pointer, as Embiid was doubled early and often. Nikola Vucevic was no match for Embiid, and the Bulls struggled to contain the offensive sets that Philly was running.

The hot hand in the first quarter, though, went to De’Anthony Melton, who made several 3-pointers in a small-ball lineup. Though it was exposed while Embiid sat, this group of players held their own by knocking down shots.

In the second quarter, a Shake Milton sighting occurred, and he did not hold back. Milton drove the lane and scored on one play while tipping in a basket on an offensive rebound. Another bench player, Danuel House Jr., made a 3-pointer to help keep the Bulls at a distance. It did not last long because Chicago crept in and dwindled the Sixers’ lead to eight points by halftime. 

Out of the locker room, the 76ers gave Chicago more hope with lackadaisical defense. Slow rotations allowed Vucevic to knock down four 3-pointers. Goran Dragic tried to turn back the hands of time, making offensive moves to keep Philly on their toes. 

Doc Rivers went to a zone defense to shut down the Chicago run. That is when Montrezl Harrell found ways to contribute.

Offensively inept up to this point of the season, Harrell put his body on the line, drawing two offensive charges to gain possessions for the Sixers. He also assisted on a nice play for a basket and was active on the glass.

The final quarter came and welcomed a back-and-forth match. With James Harden starting slow, going 1-8 from the field, he kept pushing the ball. Sometimes he turned the ball over. Other times he connected with Embiid on a pick and roll. 

Georges Niang came up big with several baskets late, and Montrezl Harrell benefitted from a James Harden pass for a dunk. Once Joel reentered the game, though, the rest of the night belonged to him. 

He assisted Niang on a layup and pulled up for a jumper with the game in the balance. Then, Joel Embiid went to work in the post. He drew double teams, made smart passes, and was fouled in the process. Though he uncharacteristically missed two free throws late in the fourth, Embiid hit the biggest shot of the night.

As Harden dribbled at the arc, Embiid rolled and received a pass from the Sixers’ point guard. From the left wing, Embiid rose up and nailed a 3-pointer to give Philly the lead. Defensively, Embiid would come up solid again.

Similar to the November matchup last year, where DeMar DeRozan drove the lane to be thwarted by Embiid, it occurred again in this game. The result was almost identical. On a subsequent play, Tobias Harris would secure a key rebound as Chicago tried to rally, but it was too late. 

On this night, the 76ers showed more balance than any game this season, with six players scoring in double digits. In the end, Philly earned their first win streak and boosted their record one game closer to .500 in the standings. 

Big Picture

The Sixers’ largest lead was 19, and Chicago’s was five points. Both teams shot the ball above 45 percent and had similar amounts of rebounds, steals, and turnovers. In the end, the Sixers’ 3-point accuracy is what gave them the advantage, making 48 percent of shots beyond the arc compared to Chicago’s 35 percent.

Up Next for the Sixers

The Sixers go to 3-4 on the season. They next play in Washington, D.C., on Halloween, Monday night, versus the Wizards. Game time starts at 7 PM and will be televised on CSN Philly.