Tuesday, May 8, 2012

76ers drop Game 5 to Bulls

CHICAGO - The Chicago Bulls, bruised and endangered, depleted and gimpy, did not hobble into the sunset Tuesday night.
The 76ers, fortunate and just good enough in winning three straight games, have never seen the cylinder get this small. It's tighter than their derrieres -- and after a 77-69 loss in Game 5 at the United Center, the Sixers have their work cut out if they are to find a way to relax and take down this best-of-seven series in Philly Thursday night.
The Bulls, who have played with the ferocity and desperation of wounded lions since Derrick Rose tore a knee ligament at the end of Game 1, finally found a reward for their display of heart.
The Bulls got workman like offensive efforts from Luol Deng (24 points, 4-for-5 on 3-pointers) and Carlos Boozer (19 points 13 rebounds, six assists), which gave them two more competent offensive options than the Sixers, who for the third straight game shot less than 40 percent from the field.
This time, they couldn't spin that bricklaying into a win. And that has Doug Collins saddled with one day to figure out some way to score some points -- and want it more than the Bulls.

"Anytime you're competing with someone and it's more important to them than it is to you, chances are you're not going to win -- unless you have more talent, which isn't the case," Collins said before the game. "You can't approach it like you have three games to win one. That would be very dangerous."
The Sixers had a historically bad first half at the offensive end. After both teams muddled their way through a slow first quarter, the Sixers went full-blown Ice Age in the second. They made four buckets, missed 19. While the Bulls hardly were epic at the offensive end, they did score 25 of the last 35 points in the first half to take a 35-26 lead into intermission.
Yes, 26 points. That is the fewest points by the Sixers in a half in their playoff history, bettering(?) by one a first-half clunker they had against Orlando May 11, 1999. They barely scored enough points down the stretch to surpass the franchise-low 67 points they had in that same game.
When the Sixers shot 34.2 percent from the floor in Game 3, then had Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Lou Williams combine to shoot 12-for-45 in Game 4, it seemed the offense had nowhere to go but up.
But no.
Holiday followed his 1-for-13 first half in Game 4 by missing eight of his nine shots in the opening half in Game 5. The other four starters were a combined 6-for-22 from the floor. And the Sixers' struggles in the paint reached ludicrous lows when they shot 4-for-19 in the lane.
The only semblance of offense for the Sixers came when they seemed at risk of losing their advantage at center after Spencer Hawes picked up a charge whistle for his second foul six minutes in. However, rookie Lavoy Allen came in and mad three straight jumpers to give the Sixers a 16-10 lead with 1:54 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Bulls responded by getting the last seven points of the first, then had the Sixers completely perplexed in the second quarter.
In the second half the offense picked up a little, but the Bulls never lost pace at the other end. Even when bruiser Taj Gibson -- who got in a scuffle with Elton Brand as they fought for a loose ball in front of Chicago's bench -- left with a sprained ankle, the Sixers failed to take advantage. Eventually Gibson limped back to action, while the Sixers limped home in need of a win there to avoid a return to Chicago.


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