The last time I covered a 76ers/Bulls game for the mediocre website LibertyBallers.com, it was Game 6 in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs. Omer Asik bricked two free throws, Andre Iguodala got the board and went coast to coast, got fouled, and connected on both free throws to send the Sixers to the east semifinals. Tonight's game had far less importance and significantly less Asik's as the Sixers took a loss at home to the Bulls 102-94 making it 22 in a row for the white shirts.
That playoff team of holy-hell-that-was-only-two-years-ago that advanced to the next round only returned one player to tonight's outing, Thaddeus Young. Tonight was a night that Thad brought it from beyond the arc, nailing four of his seven attempts on his way to a nice little 24 point performance. There will again be a time where we can see Thad play in a meaningful basketball game (gotta get a hand up on Hedo) where these kinds of showings will matter.
The two Sixers who built on Thad's energy and kept the Sixers a-fightin throughout what turned to be a wildly entertaining fourth quarter were, you guessed it I'm sure, Tony Wroten and Byron "BJ the Ohio Kid" Mullens.
Not known for being a deep threat (to others - he's Craig Hodges in his eyes), Wroten silenced all the critics for at least the night hitting his first four attempts from beyond the arc on his way to 17 points. Filling in for the injured James Anderson, Wroten had some trouble early on, especially from the free throw line and trying to keep passes in bounds, but played a big part in the final frame by answering Bulls' buckets to keep the Sixers in the hunt. A 6-16 game isn't exactly the most efficient, but I'll be damned if he's still not the best.
Roy Burton's favorite player was right there alongside Wroten in the final twelve minutes. He never met a shot he didn't like (much like Jake Fischer with nice young co-eds at the local bar) and tonight they treated him like he was royalty. I'm not gonna say it was like MIchael Jordan against Portland in the '92 Finals, but sources are saying they saw Byron shrug after he hit that foot-on-the-line jumper. Finishing 4-5 from the field with a two-handed dunk I hear they're going to incorporate in the next version of NBA Jam, Byron kept the few fans in attendance on their feet until the end. It's too bad the all-star game already happened because after that fourth quarter, I don't know how he doesn't suit up for the east. What number would you like BJ?
The efforts from Wrtoen and Mullens wouldn't be quite enough to get a win as the Bulls kept their composure, hitting timely shots on just about every possession down the stretch. The Bulls were not going to leave with a loss and got buckets whenever they needed them to keep that lead. Jimmy Butler with a three. Joakim Noah with an offensive rebound tip-in. Taj Gibson with a finish in the post. DJ Augustin with the triple. Every time the Sixers cut the gap to one possession, the Bulls answered.
It was a well fought effort from the Sixers tonight. These were not your Sixers losing by 40+ to the Clippers and Warriors. These are not the Sixers that according to some (one) wouldn't get passed the sweet sixteen (huh?). These ragtag bunch of ten-dayers brought everything they had in the tank (ha) in an attempt to get a meaningless win in the grand scheme of things. And they were entertaining doing it.
A few thoughts:
- Michael Carter-Williams put together a pretty nice game. 16 points on 16 shots isn't fantastic but it'll do for the rook. Add in nine boards and seven dimes against three turnovers and I think you've got yourself a little something. Thistankisruininghimtho.
- After two weeks without recording a block, Jarvis Varnado (The Texas Varnado) got all rim protectory notching four swats tonight. When asked about Varnado's performance, Coach Brett Brown said he hopes it give fans a small preview of what they'll be able to expect from injured big man Nerlens Noel. Just less flat top. And more Texas.
- Hey! James Nunnally! A corner three, a couple steals, a take to the basket. Cal Santa Barbara for life.
- Brandon Davies only three minutes? C'mmon, coach.
- An official blew his whistle in MCW's ear. Mikey did not like it.