Midway through the fourth quarter, the Philadelphia 76ers were up 105-96 on the Chicago Bulls, and it felt like one or two more baskets could have put Fred Hoiberg's team away for good.
And, right on cue, the Sixers didn't make a field goal for the next 4:29 of game action. During that stretch, the Bulls turned a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead, and held on for a 117-115 victory Monday night at the United Center.
If you just glanced at the box score without watching the game, you might have some questions about this one. The Sixers - who had seven players score in double-figures - shot 14-for-33 from deep, out-rebounded the Bulls 47-39, and scored 54 points in the paint to Chicago's 32.
So what happened?
Well... let's start with the turnovers, shall we? More than half of the Sixers' 20 turnovers came in a first half which saw Brett Brown's team enter the locker room trailing 67-59.
Early on, it seemed as if tonight was going to be the Justin Holiday Revenge Game, but after pouring in 20 during the first two quarters, the former Sixer went scoreless for the rest of the contest.
Even more egregious than the turnovers was the Sixers' defense, or lack thereof. The Bulls had a clean looks on 3s and long 2s all night, and a team that came in dead last in field-goal percentage was able to shoot nearly 48 percent from the field (including 13-for-28 from beyond the arc).
Chicago - now winners of six in a row - was averaging just 98 points per game heading into tonight's matchup against the Sixers. They reached that mark midway through the fourth quarter, and scored another 19 points over the final 5:22 for good measure.
The closing moments of the game turned into the Kris Dunn and Nikola Mirotic Show (22 points each): The duo was responsible for the Bulls' final 12 points.
But the Sixers had their chances down the stretch: Dario Saric (game-high 27 points) scored 8 points in a 43-second span that ended with the Sixers down just two, but Ben Simmons (19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) was unable to tie the game on a late-drive that was thwarted by a rotating Dunn.
To borrow a phrase from Tony Kornheiser, this is one of those games where folks want to see heads on pikes tomorrow. There's a lot of blame to go around on this one, but there's not too much time to point fingers with the Sacramento Kings coming to town on Tuesday.
Amir Johnson got the start at center and played 14:05 in the first half, but never returned after intermission. It was probably for the best: Richaun Holmes (14 points, 7 rebounds) showed out in his 23 minutes tonight, and Saric held his own against Lauri Markkanen.
J.J. Redick had a season-high five turnovers tonight, and when he's giving up the ball that often, he's clearly trying to do too much on offense.
Jerryd Bayless (10 points, 3-for-9 from beyond the arc) didn't even try to look for anything other than a 3 tonight. There was a stretch in the 4th quarter where it felt like he was going for the kill shot early in the shot clock when a more measured approach may have been the best option. All in all, it was not a good night for the Sixers' high-dollar vets.
Tuesday will likely be filled with debate regarding Simmons' decision-making on that last drive. That said, he had a pretty decent all-around performance, and his defense on Mirotic in the fourth quarter gave the Sixers a much-needed spark.