Star guard disses Philly, which almost made Chicago pay, losing 118-115.
By Sam Bush
It was only the sixth game out of 82, but Friday night’s Sixers-Bulls game had an air of anticipation thanks to Philly’s improved play of late and also the arrival of an elite NBA team at the Wells Fargo Center.
However, the Chicago Bulls, even without their always-recovering star guard Derrick Rose, were able to edge the Sixers 118-115, sending Brett Brown’s team to their sixth straight loss in what fans hope will not be a totally lost season.
Tony Wroten (photo above) led four Sixers in double-figures with a career-high 31 points. Philly is off to its worst start since losing its first 15 in 1972-73 when they set an NBA mark for futility by finishing 9-73.
The Bulls led by as many as 18 points after halftime, but the Sixers used a late 13-3 run to close within 116-115 with five seconds left when Chris Johnson made a 3-pointer after Kirk Hinrich missed two free throws on Chicago’s previous possession. Hinrich followed Johnson’s 3 by making a pair of free throws to put Chicago ahead by three with 2.1 seconds left. Johnson’s shot from 35 feet at the buzzer that would’ve tied wasn’t close.
Sixers rookie Nerlens Noel sat out after spraining his left ankle in Wednesday’s 91-89 loss to Orlando. Henry Sims started in place of Noel and had 16 points and eight rebounds. Hollis Thompson also set a career-high with 21 points and Luc Mbah a Moute had 16 points and 11 boards for the Sixers.
And, as far as Rose was concerned, coming back from his latest injury just wasn’t “worth it.’’
After coming back from ankle sprains Wednesday night in Milwaukee, as well as scoring 13 points and seven assists in that win, Rose opted out.
“Trying to be in here for the long-haul,’’ Rose told the Chicago Sun-Times.
When asked why the Bucks game, but not the 76ers, Rose said there was no setback with the ankles, but, “It’s just that I wasn’t able to play the way I normally play. I think I had no fast-break points, didn’t attack the way I wanted to, but I just wanted to get that win.’’
The Bulls (5-1) didn’t really need him to win.
After a sluggish first half in which they went into the locker room tied 57-57, as well as being out-rebounded 24-21, the wake-up call promptly came in the third quarter when the Bulls outscored the short-handed 76ers, 35-19, led by Mike Dunleavy’s 12 points in those 12 minutes of play.
But even with Philly refusing to go away in the fourth quarter, the story surrounding the Bulls was once again their one-time MVP.
It was after the morning shootaround that Rose declared that he was going to, “really think about [playing Friday] and really see if it’s worth it.’’
That prompted coach Tom Thibodeau to again explain the protocol surrounding Rose and his decisions to either sit or play.
“It’s [Rose’s] decision along with the medical people,’’ Thibodeau said. “You have to trust them. They’re doing what’s best. If he can’t go, I don’t want him out there. If he’s not comfortable enough to go, I don’t want him out there. I feel really good about the guys we do have.
“We’re going to let Derrick work his way through it. We have to be patient. There are going to be some ups and some downs. Just keep moving forward. That’s all I want him to do. He’s been out a long time. People tend to forget that. Everyone wants it back in a day. It doesn’t happen like that. When you miss the amount of time he has missed, it’s going to take a while for him to get back. We all have to understand that.’’
Dunleavy led the way, scoring 27 points, while Jimmy Butler added 23. Pau Gasol had yet another double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.