Breaking: The Sixers actually had to try in the fourth quarter tonight.
Philadelphia’s six-game winning streak was snapped when they fell 108-104 to the Chicago Bulls Monday night.
Coby White continued to shoot the ball well, putting up 24 points, and Nic Vucevic put up 23 points as well.
Tyrese Maxey came alive in the fourth quarter for 29 points. Joel Embiid led all scorers with 40 points, along with 14 rebounds and six assists, but missed a potential go-ahead layup with seven seconds remaining.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Between the Bulls missing six of their first seven shots to start the game, and Embiid only needing a couple of minutes to draw two fouls on Nic Vucevic, it was a pretty sloppy start to the game. Chicago didn’t take great care of the basketball early either, turning it over four times on three Sixers steals.
- It was a pretty standard start for the offense, with Embiid putting up 14 points in a flash to give Philly a quick double-digit lead. They struggled to get points without him however, the rest of the Sixers combined to shoot 4-of-12 from the field.
- While the Bulls started the game shooting poorly, they heated up towards the end of the first, finishing the quarter at 58% from the field, thanks in large part to 13 points from Coby White. That allowed the Bulls to takes a one-point lead, the first time the Sixers have trailed at the end of the quarter since halftime of Dec. 8 against the Atlanta Hawks.
- The offense did not improve much with the leading scorer on the bench. It took them over three minutes to get on the board in the second quarter, allowing an 11-0 Chicago run across quarters. Simply put, the Sixers looked like a team that hasn’t faced an NBA-caliber defense in well over a week.
- It’s easy to see why Alex Caruso is such a popular trade target. He had Philly’s perimeter on lockdown during this stretch. Maxey only took one shot while leading the second unit, typically one of his most aggressive stretches in games.
Caruso will swing a playoff series or two if a contender trades for him. The guy is on another level right now. pic.twitter.com/wmOnG4aciz— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) December 19, 2023
- It was unclear if Nick Nurse would still use a 10-man rotation with Marcus Morris out with an illness, but he still did. Robert Covington slid up into Morris’ minutes while Danuel House Jr. was the last sub a few minutes into the second. Playing in his first non-garbage time minutes in quite some time, House was fairly quiet but did knock down a corner three.
- The Sixers’ offense hasn’t looked like this in quite some time, but they looked useless in the half-court. Just about every drive-and-kick looked doomed, and Philly turned it over 10 times to show for it. With 23 points, Embiid had scored over half of the Sixers’ points at halftime, as they went into the break down 11.
Embiid fooled Vucevic enough to knock him out of frame for the replay. pic.twitter.com/E41Wix4MYe— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 19, 2023
- Philly ripped off a 17-4 run to start the second half, which was good enough for them to retake the lead. Embiid who scored or assisted on 12 of those points, reached 30 points for the 12th straight game very quickly into the quarter. No one has scored 30 or more in that many games in a row since James Harden in 2018-19.
.@sixers @JoelEmbiid extends his franchise-record streak to 12 straight games of at least 30 points.— Sixers Stats (@SixersStats) December 19, 2023
It's the longest streak in the @NBA since @JHarden13 had 30-plus in 32 straight games from Dec. 13, 2018-Feb. 21, 2019.
CLEAR THE WAY, BIG FELLA COMING THROUGH. pic.twitter.com/NTg74HlSMC— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 19, 2023
- What helped the Sixers make that run to catch up were a struggling Maxey and Nico Batum finally seeing a three-pointer fall, but the team had trouble sustaining that. Through three quarters, the Sixers shot 29% on 24 three-point attempts.
- Chicago was able to overcome the beginning of the quarter run. The end of the third was disastrous. The Sixers shot 3-of-9 over the last six minutes. Embiid picked up his fourth foul then had a miscommunication with Maxey which resulted in an ugly turnover. The Bulls pushed their lead back up to 12 after three.
- It’s been over a week since the fourth quarter mattered for this team, but the second unit finally showed some life. They opened the fourth on a 9-0 run, capped off by Kelly Oubre Jr.’s violent dunk of the night. Oubre had been having his worst game back so far, he was 0-of-6 from the field through three.
- It was surprising to see Nurse wait as long as he did to bring Embiid back, but Paul Reed had his best minutes in some time during this stretch. He scored six of his eight points in the fourth, and four of those points were second-chance points.
- Nurse liked what he saw out of Reed so much that he stayed in the game when Embiid checked back into the game, the first time those two have played real minutes together. It didn’t help the foul situation much as Embiid picked up his fifth as soon as he checked into the game. The twin-towers lineup ended up lasting just over a minute of game action.
- Philly’s offensive process was much better in the fourth quarter. They consistently got better looks than they had all day, they just missed so many layups. So many times they were able to find a cutter in the right spot, but whether it was Oubre, Covington or even Embiid, they just couldn’t finish. They shot 7-of-16 in the paint in the fourth, including a final layup that Embiid just didn’t have a handle on and leaving that many points on the board ended up being the difference.
- This was the first time in almost a month the Sixers were in a last-play scenario. They didn’t call a timeout, and didn’t need one as they got a fairly good look. Maxey found Embiid on a roll but Embiid got it up too quick, and he missed pretty bad as a result.
- The Sixers can put this one behind them when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET.