By Jerry Wein
The Sixers won another game last night with a thinned-out line-up:
Tobias Harris (COVID), Danny Green (hammy) and Ben Simmons (head case) were all missing.
And yet Philly won again.
Proving again that they are better off without crybaby Simmons.
And that their bench is about five times better than any season in recent memory.
Joel Embiid had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Seth Curry scored 22 points and hit a crucial jumper late to lead the Sixers over the Bulls 103-98.
Georges Niang added 18 points for the short-handed 76ers, who have won four in a row.
DeMar DeRozan tied a season high with 37 points for Chicago and grabbed 10 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 27 for the Bulls, who nearly came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half for the second straight game.
Chicago, which trailed by 15 in the second half, erased its 12-point deficit to start the fourth quarter when DeRozan drained a 16-footer to tie it at 87 with 6:40 to play, as Philadelphia missed nine of 10 shots to begin the final period.
But the Bulls went cold from that point, going 0 for 5 with a pair of turnovers until Alex Caruso’s dunk with 2:54 left trimmed Philadelphia’s lead to 98-91.
Embiid helped the Sixers build that advantage, scoring on a putback that made it 94-89 with five minutes left. Although he missed the chance to convert a three-point play, Embiid made a pair from the stripe the next time down the court and the 76ers were comfortably up 98-89 on Tyrese Maxey’s layup with 4:11 left.
The Bulls, who came back from a 19-point second-half margin in Monday’s 128-114 win at Boston, didn’t go away, though. Lonzo Ball’s 3 with a minute left and DeRozan’s baseline jumper pulled the Bulls to 100-98 with 29.9 seconds left. After a timeout, Curry hit a tough elbow jumper with 10.7 seconds left to put the 76ers ahead 102-98.
It looked as though the Bulls would have a chance to get closer when Embiid appeared to foul DeRozan, but officials reversed the foul call after replay.
Embiid returned to the lineup after sitting out a victory over the Trail Blazers for rest. It was the first missed game of the season for the four-time All-Star, who played just 51 games last season due to injuries and rest on his way to finishing runner-up in the MVP race.
Chicago trailed by 18 in the first half when Embiid hit a 16-foot pull-up jumper with 1:48 left before the break. DeRozan had one of the highlights of the first half with a one-handed dunk with 2:49 remaining.