10 observations: Bulls blown out by 76ers, lose Patrick Williams to ankle injury originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
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PHILADELPHIA — The Chicago Bulls got blown out 110-97 by the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night at The Center.
Here are 10 observations:
—Tyrese Maxey drew two fouls in the first 2 minutes, 42 seconds and 76ers coach Nick Nurse played him another 3 minutes. And why not? Nothing else seemingly went wrong for Philadelphia in a dominant first quarter in which they led by as many as 29. It’s the largest first-quarter deficit in the NBA this season. Embiid later joined Maxey with two fouls, but did it matter? The 76ers assisted on 13 of 16 first-quarter field goals and sank as many 3-pointers (seven) as the Bulls did two-pointers. The Bulls missed all 10 3-pointers in the first quarter.
“The way we shoot can’t impact the physicality we have to play with defensively,” coach Billy Donovan said. “They pretty much were getting whatever they wanted. I thought our contest rate to start the game wasn’t great. We picked it up but we couldn’t shoot at all.”
—As part of the dreadful start, coach Billy Donovan used a quick hook on Patrick Williams at the 8:28 mark after he committed a turnover and then fouled Kelly Oubre Jr. on the ensuing breakaway. Donovan did bring Williams back less than a minute later for Alex Caruso and said postgame the quick hook wasn’t based on play but how Williams was moving.
“His ankle was bothering him,” Donovan said.
—In fact, Williams’ night got worse. He checked out with 4:22 left in the first half and didn’t return after aggravating the right ankle injury he has been playing through for weeks. Williams finished with three points, one rebound and one foul in 11 minutes. With the Bulls facing a back-to-back on Wednesday and already without Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Torrey Craig, the depth is becoming an issue.
Williams played all 82 games last season and said he’d do everything he could to try to play Wednesday in New York when the Bulls finish their back-to-back set. They bussed to New York late Tuesday.
“It had been feeling stiff or sore,” Williams said. “A lot of times when I feel that way, I try to play through it and with the adrenalin of the game or when your body gets going, it starts to loosen up. This time it didn’t.”
—The Bulls missed their first 13 3-pointers and finished 7-for-37 from distance. Williams sank the first 3-pointer with 5:30 left in the first half. Coby White’s recent struggles continued with an 0-for-5 night. He’s now 3-for-31 over his last five games. White also went to the locker room after tweaking his right ankle on a drive with 1 minute left in the third quarter. He later returned to the bench but didn’t re-enter with the game out of hand. Donovan said White could’ve returned if needed.
—The Bulls also didn’t record their first bench points until 6:16 remained in the second quarter on an Ayo Dosunmu drive. Dosunmu started the second half for Williams.
—The Bulls trailed by 31 points at halftime. They also only had five assists at the break and finished with 17, just one ahead of their season-low. They shot 38.5 percent.
“I’m not a big flush-game guy,” Donovan said. “I think there’s always something to be learned in any situation. The physicality and tone we tried to set early wasn’t good.”
—Embiid returned from a four-game absence with an ankle injury to post his seventh career triple-double and extend his franchise-record streak with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds to 14 straight games. Embiid finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks in 31 minutes. The Bulls didn’t attack Embiid much when he incurred foul trouble, even drawing his fourth early in the third quarter on a charge on Alex Caruso.
—About the only bright spot came in the form of 19 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points. But the Bulls offset this by committing 18 turnovers, which led to 13 76ers’ points.
—In the young players’ development department, Dalen Terry and Julian Phillips drew extended minutes down the stretch of the blowout. While Terry continues to show flashes, particularly defensively, and finished with eight rebounds and seven assists, he needs to improve his shot to contribute regularly at this level. He airballed two 3-point attempts. Phillips attacked on a driving layup and sank his first career 3-pointer immediately after entering. He continues to play aggressively in limited minutes. Adama Sanogo even played and scored his first career NBA points, finishing with eight.
—Back in Chicago, Zach LaVine practiced for a second straight day at the Advocate Center with the G League affiliate Windy City Bulls. Donovan said the reports on LaVine are “very, very positive” and Donovan wouldn’t rule out a return as early as Friday’s home game against Charlotte.
“I don’t know what the exact date is going to be but the way he’s progressing and the fact he’s in full-fledged contact is very positive,” Donovan said. “I don’t know how much data the medical staff wants to see in terms of how many game-load practices he can handle. But everything that’s been thrown at him, he’s handled really well.”
LaVine hasn’t played since Nov. 28 because of right foot inflammation.
“Make sure he feels comfortable and not rushed to get back out there so it isn’t a continuous injury,” DeMar DeRozan said. “We could’ve used that extra 20 to 25 to 30 points (Tuesday) night. Give another dynamic focal point of scoring, playmaking. At the end of the day, it’s still Zach LaVine. And teams have to prepare for that. When we have him on the court, there are so many more options for us to execute.”
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