>After trailing by five points at halftime, things weren’t looking good for the Chicago Bulls. They had somehow managed to be on the losing end of a game in which their opponent, the Philadelphia 76ers, had just one win in 25 games. But things turned around for the Bulls in the third quarter.
Tony Snell scored 13 points in the third to lead the Bulls into what would become a 115-96 win over the Sixers. Snell’s 13 points also outdid Philadelphia’s quarter total of 12 points.
But while Snell did most of the work in getting his team back ahead, it was the Bulls’ bench that helped maintain and extend the Bulls’ lead.
Kirk Hinrich, Doug McDermott and Joakim Noah joined Snell and Taj Gibson to close out the third quarter, and they managed to finish it out with an 85-68 lead. Nikola Mirotic took Gibson’s place in the final period, and the group solidified the win, but the game ended much differently than it began.
In usual Bulls fashion, they got off to a slow start, but so did the Sixers. The Bulls still managed to get on the board first with Pau Gasol making a pair of free throws. Gasol followed that with a jumper for the game’s first field goal, but despite that, the Bulls couldn’t take advantage.
Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor quickly responded, matching the Bulls four points with four points of his own. From there, neither team could take control of the game, and it remained as such until head coach Fred Hoiberg got his bench in.
Noah helped the Bulls get out ahead by bringing plenty of energy off the bench. He, Hinrich and McDermott joined Jimmy Butler and Gasol. That lineup that gave the Bulls the 24-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Bulls took that momentum into the second quarter and opened with back-to-back threes from McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. That suddenly gave Chicago a nine-point lead, forcing Philadelphia to take a quick timeout — and it seemed to have worked.
The Sixers came out of timeout with an 11-0 run. A Mirotic 3-pointer broke Philadelphia’s scoring streak, and it even gave the Bulls the 33-32 lead. But Mirotic’s shot didn’t start a Bulls’ run. Rather, the Sixers just slowed down, and the Bulls got back into more of an offensive groove.
By the end of the quarter, the Sixers outscored the Bulls 37-27, scoring nearly 20 points more than they had in the first quarter.
As has been seen throughout this season so far, the Bulls failed to maintain their lead and allowed their opponent,
this time a one-win Philadelphia team to have hope of victory. Unlike what has been the norm for this season, Snell’s performance really stood out among his teammates — and this was a game in which Snell wasn’t even the team’s second leading scorer.
Butler was actually the game’s leading scorer with 23 points, and Mirotic followed with 17 points. Snell did, however, finish the night with a season-high 16 points that, while paired with his 11 rebounds, contributed to a double-double. Gasol and McDermott also scored in double figures.
The Bulls are now 14-8 and will return to the hardwood on Wednesday to face the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. central.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.