Sixers Falter Down The Stretch, Lose To The Bulls 96-89
Posted 12/13/2012 10:00:00 AM

Despite playing their second game in two nights, the Chicago Bulls came into the Wells Fargo Center and looked like the fresher team down the stretch en route to a 96-89 victory last night.

The Sixers (12-10) led 80-79 with four minutes, 31 seconds to go but a Jimmy Butler three-pointer ignited a 17-9 run that clinched the game for the Bulls (12-9).

Joakim Noah had one of his strongest games of the young season as he scored 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He went a perfect 7-of-7 from the foul line, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out five assists, blocked three shots and had one steal in 44 minutes on the court.

Noah had some built-in motivation coming into last night’s game as he injured his ankle in Game 3 of last season’s playoff series between these two teams. He felt disrespected when Philly fans “cheered” his injury.

“I’ve been thinking about this game all summer,” Noah said, according to CSNPhilly.com. “I felt like when I went down and people were cheering and stuff, it was disrespectful. It definitely motivated me to work even harder this summer.”

Whether he has a legitimate gripe or not is a moot point as this game was more about the Sixers running out of gas in crunch time than it was the revenge factor.

Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday both played 40 minutes while the other three starters were over 30. Only two bench players, Spencer Hawes (29 minutes) and Nick Young (28 minutes), saw significant time playing time.

“I thought we got a little tired,” Collins said. “I thought fatigue was a factor.”

As John Gonzalez wrote in his column last night, The Sixers’ bench, once a source of strength, has become a glaring weakness.

Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen all came off the bench for large portions of last season. This year, Young and Turner have started every game, while Allen (who has been forced to fill in for Andrew Bynum) has started all but six of the team’s 22 outings. And with Lou Williams -- who was instant offense and a runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award -- playing for Atlanta, the bench suddenly looks thinner than Young before he packed on weight over the summer.

Holiday had a pretty ‘good’ bad game last night as he scored 26 points (but it came on 28 shot attempts) and dished out nine assists (to go along with five turnovers, including a bad pass early on in the Bulls’ game-deciding run).

Another contributing factor to the loss was the Sixers’ inability to get to the line. The attempted just 11 free throws and converted only five of them. Conversely, the Bulls went 24-of-26 from the line.

“We got beat by 19 points at the foul line,” Collins said. “We have to do a better job creating contact going to the basket and so we can get rewarded and get to the line.”

Collins’ charges are going to have to work hard at that as they are currently 25th in the NBA in free throw attempts.

The Sixers return to action tomorrow night as they will fly out to Indianapolis to take on the Pacers. Pregame coverage starts at 6:50 on The Fanatic.

Posted By: John Lamb  

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