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Zach LaVine hits 11 3s, James Harden struggles, as Sixers fall to Bulls

33 of LaVine’s game-high 41 points came beyond the arc.

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

That wasn’t pretty.

The Sixers three-game winning streak was snapped when they fell 126-112 to the Chicago Bulls Friday night. The Joel Embiid-less Sixers struggled with the Bulls’ height and Zach LaVine’s unwillingness to miss a shot. LaVine shot 14-of-19 on the night, good for 41 points, including a scorching 11-of-13 from deep.

Tyrese Maxey had his best offensive night since returning from injury, putting up 26 points on 8-of-15 shooting. James Harden was not as successful, finishing with 17 points on 4-of-17 from the field. The loss drops the Sixers to 23-15.

Here are some instant takeaways from the loss.

First quarter

  • Since his return, Tyrese Maxey has started games off rather passive, letting himself ramp up within the flow of the game. His first quarter shift was easily the most aggressive he’s looked since coming back. Eight of his 26 came in the opening frame.
  • This was an odd sentence to type out, but the Sixers have been a really good outside shooting team this year. Not only did they hoist up 11 three-pointers in the first, but they made six of them, helping them get out to a five-point lead.
  • A very strange opening quarter for James Harden, who started 0-of-7 from the field and looked terrible in his attempts to get to the basket. He was able to create looks for his teammates, as four of Philly’s made threes in the first were assisted by Harden.

Second quarter

  • It is worth noting that despite the absence of Joel Embiid, head coach Doc Rivers still stuck to staggering his stars. The Sixers had at least one of Maxey or Harden on the floor for the entirety of the first half.
  • The Maxey-plus-the-bench unit was easily Philly’s best minutes of the half, as their lead ballooned up to 13 during this stretch. Maxey was in total command of the floor, as evidenced by this play.
  • Things went south for the Sixers when their shooting started to regress closer to the half. They were just 3-of-10 from downtown in the second and went over three minutes without scoring at all. The Bulls stormed all the way back, taking a four-point lead for themselves into the break.

Third quarter

  • Zach LaVine was certainly feeling it from downtown. He shot a 11-of-13 from three on the night, making the first eight he took. It felt like the Sixers could have been more proactive in stopping him, as they didn’t give Matisse Thybulle a crack at guarding him until De’Anthony Melton picked up his fourth foul. LaVine finished with 41 points on the night.
  • It was definitely odd that the Sixers went away from their most successful offense (Tyrese Maxey) so early into the third. With P.J. Tucker getting crushed at the five, the Sixers pulled Maxey and put Harrell in a little early. This adjustment did not work, as the Sixers could not get a stop, but also could not keep pace with LaVine’s scoring. The Bulls took a 15-point lead into the fourth.
  • The Sixers struggled because of their lack of size all night. Nikola Vucevic stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. When LaVine wasn’t terrorizing Philly, it was Patrick Williams. Williams went scoreless in the first half, but came alive for 16 in the third quarter.

Fourth quarter

  • We finally saw some Paul Reed action, with only seven minutes left in the game and the Bulls still holding a 15-point lead. The Sixers showed the slightest amount of fight, trimming the lead down to as little as seven, but it was just too little, too late.
  • The Sixers can put this one behind them when they travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons on Sunday at 3 p.m.

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