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Sixers Crush Bulls 89-82, Force Chicago to the Brink of Elimination

Bulls 82, Sixers 89 – FINAL

Sixers lead series 3-1

Spencer Hawes had another incredible game and is by far the MVP of the series thus far. (Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago Bulls needed to win Game 4 to try and recapture what little magic they see, to have in the 2012 playoffs. But Spencer Hawes, Jrue Holiday and their combined 42 points made sure that didn’t happen and now the Bulls — the number one seed in the playoffs — are heading back home on the brink of elimination.

In the first half, things started very slow for the Bulls. C.J. Watson couldn’t hit a bucket to save his life and the flow was falling apart before it could even get started.

But then Taj Gibson entered the game and proceeded to go off for 12 points and 5 rebounds in 10 minutes on the court. His gigantic contributions came at the perfect time, as both C.J. Watson and Carlos Boozer were slipping down the rope and were shooting a combined 2-15 from the field.

Speaking of bad shooting, the Sixers guards had an atrocious first half, shooting just 4-28. Evan Turner led the way in terms of bad shooting being just 1-13 from the field at the half. The biggest guy for the Sixers was Spencer Hawes who had 17 points at the half, which was more then Watson, Asik, Hamilton and Deng — four of the Buls five starters — combined.

Although they trailed 44-42 at halftime, the Bulls came out and didn’t implode in the third quarter like they did in Game 2. Instead they stayed punchy, not letting the Sixers get too far ahead and not themselves getting too far ahead of the Sixers.

The punches continued to be traded throughout the third quarter but something strange happened. Carlos Boozer did a complete 180 and actually caught fire. After starting 1 for 7 Boozer went 8 for 13 and began the fourth quarter with 18 points and 8 rebounds.

But we had seen the Bulls gain leads all series long and fumble them away at some point in the second half. In Game 2 it was a third quarter blitz by the Sixers and Game 3 saw a 14 point lead evaporate in the fourth. With both teams trading buckets back and forth the question was who would be the first to pull ahead?

That ended up being the Sixers who with 8:55 left to play pulled ahead with a 70-65 lead, the biggest lead of the second half at that point.  But the Bulls didn’t quit. C.J. Watson made consecutive trips to the free throw line and two defensive stops followed by big buckets made the game 74-73 with under 5:00 left to play in the game.

But Jrue Holiday continued to build on his 14 second half points by hitting back to back threes to make it a 80-73 game.

Chicago again brought it back within reach making the Sixers lead just 80-78 and even after Spencer Hawes made it 82-78, C.J. Watson  hit another clutch bucket to bring the Bulls within two.

It was by far the most competitive game of the series thus far with the game never heavily favoring wither side at any point in the second half — at least not in a way we had seen in the previous 3 games.

But the Sixers took advantage of Bulls mistakes late, most notably two Boozer out of bounds calls and a couple of foul calls to pull ahead and stay there.

Jrue Holiday finished with 20 points, 16 of those coming in the second half and the Bulls waited until the very last second to give up. You do have to commend their effort but the sad part about that it in the fourth Game of the opening round of the playoffs, you shouldn’t have to be happy that at least it wasn’t a blow out.

This is the worst possible situation the Bulls can be in. They are returning home to Chicago facing elimination which captures perfectly the confusion of this playoff series post the Derrick Rose injury. This shouldn’t be happening but it is and the hardest part is we have no one thing to blame. It’s been a collective failure on both ends of the court.

 

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