Embiid-less Sixers fall to Lavine, Bulls 126-112

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Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, left, drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers’ Matisse Thybulle during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Bulls won 126-112. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The Philadelphia 76ers’ final game of their three-game homestand came Friday night against the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers came into the matchup with the Bulls, winners of three straight, including a 129-126 overtime win against the Indiana Pacers. Chicago came into Friday night’s clash after a 121-112 win against the Brooklyn Nets, who were on a twelve-game winning streak.

The 76ers controlled the game early on and built a lead of 14 points, but the Chicago Bulls came storming back in the second quarter. After a monster 40-point third quarter led by Zach Lavine, the Bulls firmly grabbed control of the game. The Sixers tried to fight back in the fourth but couldn’t overcome a bad night offensively from Harden, losing 126-112.

Bad Game James

James Harden struggled mightily in the first half in this matchup with the Bulls. He was 1-10 from the floor in the first half totaling six points. He did have seven rebounds and six assists but didn’t have the juice to score the rock. Harden even missed his first two free throws, which was uncharacteristic of him. “The Beard” showed a little life late in the fourth as the Sixers were trying to mount a comeback, but it was a little too late. Harden ended the night with 17 points (4-17), 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. The Sixers won’t overcome most nights with Harden shooting that badly and Joel Embiid out of the lineup.

The Bulls’ Offensive Explosion

The game started out with Nikola Vucevic dominating the boards and interior against the 76ers’ small ball lineup. Vucevic feasted on smaller defenders like PJ Tucker and Tobias Harris, pulling down 18 rebounds to go along with his 19 points and 10 assists. The true star of the game for the Bulls was Zach Lavine, scoring 41 points and going 11/13 from three-point range. He absolutely went nuclear in the third quarter, hitting three-pointer after three-pointer. He also hit the dagger in the fourth quarter to close out the game for the road team. In a game where DeRozan wasn’t as dominant as he usually is, Lavine picked up the slack.

The Return of Mad Maxey?

Tyrese Maxey came out of the gates firing for the Sixers, scoring 13 points in the first half, shooting 3-4 from three-point range. He also made some nice passes on his drives, passes that he didn’t make last season. Unfortunately for the Sixers, his play was enough for them to get the W against the Bulls. He ended the night with 26 points and 6 assists. This performance showed that the young guard is returning to form, and his scoring is much needed.