CHICAGO — These Philadelphia 76ers are going to take residence in the record books, but the entry about their epic losing streak will not tell the full story.
Once again, the 76ers put up a tough battle. But Chicago center Joakim Noah did more scoring than passing for a change and the Bulls handed Philadelphia its 24th consecutive loss with a 91-81 victory Saturday night at the United Center.
With the loss, Philadelphia moved into sole possession of second place on the list of longest losing streaks within a single season. Cleveland set the record of 26 straight in 2010-11. Three other teams lost 23 in a row — Vancouver in 1995-96, Denver in 1997-98 and Charlotte in 2011-12.
The 76ers earned some respect from the Bulls, though, with a couple of hard-fought games this week. When these teams played Wednesday in Philadelphia, the score was tied in the fourth quarter.
“Even though they lost so many games, they play hard every night,” Noah said. “People don’t realize how hard it is to win in this league, even against a team like that who’s lost so many games in a row. I respect the heck out of that team because they play hard every night.”
Noah, who scored 20 points, had led the Bulls in assists during the previous nine games, but that streak came to an end. He finished with eight rebounds and four assists. Guard Jimmy Butler added 17 points for Chicago (39-31), while forward Taj Gibson and guard D.J. Augustin scored 16 each.
Forward Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia (15-55) with 28 points, while center Henry Sims finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. The 76ers shot 34.5 percent from the field as a team, but won the rebounding battle 48-44.
“It was a real dogfight,” Gibson said. “They really got into us, kind of like playoff basketball. You may dominate them one game. The next game it’s a complete turnaround. They were on top of some rebounds and it was real difficult tonight.”
As much as the 76ers battled, they missed their first 18 attempts from 3-point range. Center Byron Mullens finally ended that streak with 9:47 left in the fourth quarter and they ended the night 1-for-20 from long range.
“They packed the paint, so we were getting a lot of 3-point shots and they were wide-open looks,” Young said. “We just didn’t make them. It is what it is, another game.”
Chicago led for the entire second half, but was never able to put much distance on the 76ers.
Philadelphia pulled within 86-79 with 3:50 remaining on Young’s three-point play.
The Bulls responded with a jumper by Gibson and a 3-pointer by Augustin, which gave them the biggest lead of the night at 91-79 with 2:29 remaining.
The two teams had trouble converting inside. The box score had the Bulls hitting just 13 of 32 shots in the paint. The 76ers were not much better at 20-for-43. Gibson recorded a game-high four blocked shots.
Both teams were coming off tough losses Friday. Philadelphia nearly ended the losing streak with a late comeback against New York, but Carter-Williams’ potential tying 3-pointer rimmed out just before the buzzer.
“We are on a different report card than most teams in the league at this stage in the season,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “We focused on development and practice. I hope that has helped us stay together and focus on what’s important.”
The 76ers controlled the first quarter Saturday, building a 25-20 lead, while limiting Chicago to 25 percent shooting (4-for-16). The Bulls did not take their first lead of the game until Augustin hit a 3-pointer to make it 39-38 with 1:28 left in the second quarter.
NOTES: Philadelphia will be without G Tony Wroten indefinitely due to a sprained right ankle. He’s the Sixers’ fourth-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. Coach Brett Brown said he expects Wroten to miss all three games on the current road trip and perhaps more. “It’s just another opportunity to see maybe more minutes of all of our young guys,” Brown said. … Chicago improved to 15-1 in its last 16 games following a loss. … Brown on getting the Sixers to play hard during the long losing streak: “It’s been my greatest fear, but probably the single area where I’m most proud of and it hasn’t been as hard as I thought.” … Philadelphia G Michael Carter-Williams is on pace to become the third player since 1950-51 to lead all rookies in points, rebounds and assists. The others were Oscar Robertson in 1960-61 and Alvan Adams in 1975-76.
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