76ers end dry spell in Chicago with win

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[March 25, 2017]  CHICAGO -- The Philadelphia 76ers didn't have their top two big men, only had 10 players and still managed to end a 12-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at the United Center.

Led by Dario Saric, who had a career-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, the Sixers ended a two-game losing streak with a 117-107 win, after losing to the Bulls the previous nine times they played in Chicago.

"Today we were so good offensively," said Saric, who logged his 10th double-double of the season. "We got some energy in transition. In (defensive) transition, we were good there, and the better team won today. We controlled the game for like 45 minutes maybe, and we deserved this win."

Philadelphia didn't have center Jahlil Okafor, who's from Chicago. Okafor sat out with left knee soreness, while rookie center Joel Embid underwent minor knee surgery Friday that ended his season. Despite lacking that size in the lineup, the Sixers (27-45) outscored the Bulls (34-39) by a 70-30 margin in the paint.

Jimmy Butler had 36 points and 11 assists to lead the Bulls (34-39), who trail the Miami Heat by 1 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Bobby Portis had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which is 3-9 in its last 12 games.

Afterward, it was another bitter pill to swallow in the Bulls locker room, knowing a chance to move past the Heat, based on a tie-breaker, slipped through their fingers.

"We do enough talking around here as it is," said Butler, who was asked if the veterans need to have a talk with some of the young players. "I think everybody knows where we stand right now, on the outside looking in. Everybody knows where we want to be. Ain't too much to say. Nine more (games left). We got to have them, as we said before the game, as we will say (Saturday), and the day after that, and probably the day after that. We got to have them."

Trailing 93-71 to start the fourth quarter, the Bulls rallied to briefly make things interesting. They put together a 21-7 run in the first 4:46 to close within 100-92 on a jumper by Portis, but couldn't pull any closer.

Shawn Long had 18 points and Sergio Rodriguez added 12 points and seven assists for the Sixers, with both coming off the bench. Gerald Henderson, inactive the previous two games, chipped in 14 points and T.J. McConnell had 10.

Nikola Mirotic had 15 points and Anthony Morrow added 10 for Chicago.

The Bulls got off to a good start and used a 9-0 run in the first quarter to build a 28-24 lead. Mirotic (10 points) and Butler (11 points) led the way, looking like they did in leading the Bulls to a 117-95 win against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

The good feeling didn't last long.

Philadelphia outscored Chicago 35-18 in the second quarter, including 31-14 over the final 10:01. Rodriguez, Long and Saric spearheaded the outburst, with the trio combining for 29 points -- including nine points, six assists and three rebounds by Rodriguez.

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6ers forward Shawn Long (36) dunks the ball during the second quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The Sixers outscored the Bulls 40-16 in the paint in the first half, outrebounded them 22-11 and shot 57.8 percent from the field (26-of-45).

"It was our energy," Rodriguez said. "Sometimes, it's hard to start the game. They started very strong. They are playing to get into the playoffs, and for us it was a little too much at the beginning. But we solved the problem and the next three quarters we were great."

Philadelphia led 59-46 at the half and continued the onslaught in the third, when the Sixers opened the quarter with an 8-1 to build a 67-47 lead in less than two minutes. The margin got as high as 26 points before Chicago made its comeback bid.

"In the second quarter, they just completely took control of the game," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Looking at the points in the paint, 70-30, that tells you everything you need to know about tonight's game. For us to come out with that lack of effort at this point in the season is maddening. We finally showed up to the fight in the fourth quarter, but it was too late."

NOTES: Bulls C Robin Lopez returned to the starting lineup after serving a one-game suspension for a fight against Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka on Tuesday. ... Chicago F Cristiano Felicio (lower back contusion) is showing progress, but missed his second straight game. ... Philadelphia only dressed 10 players against the Bulls after C Jahlil Okafor (sore right knee) joined four injured teammates on the sidelines. Okafor, who had a knee-to-knee collision with Oklahoma City Thunder G Victor Oladipo on Wednesday, received treatments during the game. The Sixers are already missing G Jerryd Bayless (left wrist surgery), C Joel Embiid (left knee), F Ben Simmons (fracture right foot) and F/C Tiago Splitter (right calf strain). "We have 10 guys," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We've had lots of practice at this." ... Embiid underwent surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee and is out for the rest of the season.

[ 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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