PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers were looking to sweep this quick three-game homestand on Friday before heading out on the road for one game. The Chicago Bulls were standing in the way of that hope and the Sixers had to go to battle without the injured Joel Embiid to boot.
The Sixers built a 13-point lead behind some strong 3-point shooting, but the Bulls battled back behind a steady dose of their size as well as Zach LaVine and they were able to rally for a 126-112 victory. LaVine had 41 points and six assists while knocking down 11 triples to lead Chicago while Nikola Vucevic took advantage of no Embiid by going for 19 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Tyrese Maxey had 26 points and six assists to lead Philadelphia, Tobias Harris had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and James Harden added 17 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. Montrezl Harrell hopped off the bench and had 17 points while De’Anthony Melton added nine points while Georges Niang added another 12.
Here are the player grades following the loss at home:
The Beard continues to do it all out on the floor. In the first quarter, he was attacking the glass, he was getting into the paint, and he was setting up his teammates. When it was time to get his teammates involved, he made some pinpoint passes. The offense did grind to a halt in the second half as they were not playing with the same pace they did in the first half which built them the lead. Some of that is on Harden as he is the one with the ball in his hands. He also shot poorly on one night when the Sixers needed him to do more.
It was a terrific start for Maxey as he knocked down two triples and he then leaked out for a layup after a very good defensive play. He had that pep in his step all night on the offensive end and he really was able to get into the paint and do whatever he wanted. He also made some really nice reads with his passing from him. With that being said, he had a rough night on the defensive end as he and the other guards were getting torched by LaVine.
Once again, Melton was all over the place on the defensive end to start the game. He had quite a few deflections in the first half as he was doing the best he could to deny entry passes considering how small Philadelphia was playing. However, once Chicago adjusted, they took him out of the defensive game plan and he wasn’t able to make up for it on the offensive end.
Again, Harris was aggressive to start the game. He has to when considering the ginormous hole in the middle the Sixers have at the moment. He had 11 points in the first half as he was terrific in getting to his spots and knocking down the shots he is comfortable taking. He had a tough time defending LaVine on the defensive end though. He does get points for battling in the paint with the taller Bulls and trying to get some rebounds and he made some big shots in the fourth quarter to get Philadelphia back in the game.
PJ Tucker: D+
The Bulls are a tough matchup to go with Tucker at the center spot. Tucker certainly bothered the hell out of every big man Chicago threw in there, but he ultimately did not just have the size to match up with either Vucevic or Andre Drummond. This is a night when they missed Embiid the most. On the offensive end, he passed up a few open looks again which is beginning to become a real problem on the offensive end. One can see he isn’t right though as it’s clear that the various injuries he’s sustained are bothering him.
George Niang: B+
The Niang-Harden connection continues to percolate. The fact that Niang continues to just fire away without any thought is a huge help in his role. The Sixers need him to just shoot the ball, especially when he’s playing next to Harden, and The Minivan fills that role perfectly. He did what the team expects of him in this one.
Montrezl Harrell: B-
For the second straight game, Harrell provided some really good minutes for the Sixers off the bench. He was active on the offensive end as a roller and he has some really good hands on that end which makes it easier for the guards to throw entry passes to him. On the defensive end, he drew a charge and he brought a lot of energy to the floor. However, he also had issues defending Vucevic and Drummond and it cost the Sixers in this one.
Shake Milton: C
The veteran out of SMU continues to provide some really good minutes off the bench recently. He had five points in his initial run with the second unit and it seems that he is finally understanding that he needs to be the guy for the bench. He has to be the one to just lead that group and set the tone. He did, however, have a very rough night on the defensive end when trying to chase down LaVine.
Matisse Thybulle: C-
Thybulle had some nice defensive moments in terms of being able to bother Chicago’s perimeter players. He didn’t have much of an opportunity on the offensive end, but this was a solid defensive night for him. LaVine was still knocking down some shots against Thybulle, but they were shots where one has to just give respect and move on. Thybulle forced him into a few misses when he was glued to him.