3 things we learned in Sixers’ loss to short-handed Bulls

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid argues with an official during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

On the same night that the Philadelphia Eagles suffered a disappointing defeat, the Sixers followed suit. At home against a short-handed Bulls squad, the Sixers stumbled to a 4-point loss.

Here are 3 things we learned:

The dominance continues

Just when you think Joel Embiid couldn’t add anything else new to his game, he expands it even more. The reigning MVP dominated anyone who guarded him last night. Whether he’s wearing blue and white or red and black, Nikola Vucevic was helpless against Joel Embiid.

Embiid dominated on the glass and scored from practically everywhere on the court. His patented mid-range jump shot was cooking, and he knocked down a pair of threes. In addition, he continues to display his latest move.

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Chicago Bulls’ Nikola Vucevic, left, and Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid chase a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Something he’s doing more of this season is drive to his right, stop, and then cross over for a pull-up jumpshot. For his size, the crossover and immediate pull-up jumper is not an easy task, but he seems to have added it consistently to his already hefty bag of moves. Joel Embiid’s offensive brilliance should not get overlooked despite the loss.

He scored 40 points on efficient shooting, and he only visited the free-throw line nine times. His 14 rebounds were a game-high for both teams.

Third and fourth options missing

Kelly Oubre, Jr. has been a pleasant surprise since signing with the Sixers. He was on quite a roll until his bike accident caused him to miss games due to a rib injury.

For whatever reason his shot was off last night, leaving the team without his usual steady production. He struggled from the field, shooting only 20 percent on ten shots. He did have a nice dunk in the final quarter as the Sixers rallied, but other than that he had a pretty quiet night.

Also, missing from the game was Tobias Harris. Against the bulls, he seemed lost and could not find his shot. Matter of fact, he only attempted three shots. When Embiid or Maxey were not in the game, Harris was out of sync in the offense, and his stat line showed.

As a veteran, he’s expected to do more. He has been rumored to be on the trade block, so it is pure speculation whether or not these rumors are affecting his game. He’s no stranger to trade rumors, because his name is mentioned every year. The Sixers have the advantage of him being an asset because of his expiring contract.

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris dunks next to Atlanta Hawks’ Clint Capela, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Dec. 8, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Will the 76ers part ways with Harris before the trade deadline on February 9th, 2024? Only time will tell.

Speaking of trade rumors…

LaVine sits out, others step up

Zach LaVine has been on the injury report for several weeks now. NBA fans are wondering what the Bulls could do with LaVine in a possible trade. Although he did not play last night, other players, not named DeMar DeRozan, elevated their game in his absence.

Colby White had an outstanding game versus the Sixers. He attacked from all areas, and his shot was on. Not the most athletic or lengthy guard, White found ways to be productive. He finished the night with 24 points and nine assists. Lonzo Ball has been hurt all season, but it looks like White has been a capable replacement for the Bulls.

Another player who stepped up was Vucevic. The former 76er usually struggles against Embiid, but he had himself a nice game. Most notably, he knocked down some timely three-pointers in the fourth quarter to hold off the Sixers rally.

The veteran center was given a contract extension in the off-season, showing that Chicago truly values his double-double productivity.

Lastly, Alex Caruso pitched in nicely for the Bulls, playing solid defense on Tyrese Maxey, who shot 9-23 on the night. Caruso is also rumored to be available for trade, but for what price? He is a coveted 2-way player, so whatever demands Chicago sets on the market, expect it to be high for Caruso.

The Sixers play next on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 7pm EST.

AP Photo/Nell Redmond