PHILADELPHIA — The Chicago Bulls pushed the Philadelphia 76ers another game closer to a dubious piece of NBA history Wednesday night, though the Sixers hardly went willingly.
Guard/forward Jimmy Butler hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 6:49 left and reserves D.J. Augustin and Taj Gibson combined for 12 points thereafter, as the Bulls pulled out a 102-94 victory over the Sixers (15-53), Philadelphia’s 22nd straight defeat.
Forward Thaddeus Young had 24 points to front the Sixers, who are four defeats away from equaling the NBA record of 26 in a row, established by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers. Guard Tony Wroten added 17, and guard Michael Carter-Williams finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Philadelphia, which last won on Jan. 29, also dropped its 17th straight at home, two short of the league record held by the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks.
“We knew it would be this type of game,” said Augustin, a guard who led Chicago with 20 points. “The last couple teams they played, it was close games. We just tried to fight them to the end — and it was a fight. It was a real fight.”
Gibson, a forward, had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Butler finished with 16 points, guard/forward Mike Dunleavy had 15 and center Joakim Noah contributed 14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four blocks. Forward Carlos Boozer chipped in 12 points and 11 boards.
Philadelphia, trailing 77-69 early in the fourth quarter, mounted a 16-8 run that including two 3-pointers by backup forward Byron Mullens, and one each by Wroten and Young. Young’s bomb from the left corner with 7:43 remaining knotted the score at 85-85.
Butler then connected from the arc, and Augustin did likewise with 5:56 left.
The Sixers were within four after a dunk by Mullens with 1:19 left, at 98-94, but Butler made two free throws with 24.2 seconds left, as did Augustin with 6.5 seconds remaining.
“We needed everyone,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We had a lot of guys step up.”
Especially Augustin, who scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. Gibson also had 10 in the period, and Butler had Chicago’s other seven.
“(Thibodeau) wants me to have the ball,” Augustin said, “so I’ve got to do what I do when I’m out there.”
Philadelphia shot 5-for-11 from 3-point range in the final period, 11-for-24 overall, but was out-rebounded 52-38. The Sixers also missed 10 of 19 free throws.
“It’s frustrating being close in a lot of games and finishing them out,” Wroten said, “but we’re going to get one soon.”
There were six ties and five lead changes in the game’s first 13 minutes, but the Bulls held the Sixers without a single field goal while going on a 13-2 run early in the second quarter, enabling Chicago to take a 41-30 lead with 5:50 left in the half.
Five different Bulls score in the run, with Augustin and fellow reserve guard Tony Snell contributing three points apiece and Butler doing the same.
The Sixers, sparked by Carter-Williams’ five points and some strong play by their bench, cut the gap to 52-45 by halftime.
Carter-Williams and Young each scored 11 points in the first half, while Dunleavy topped Chicago with 13 and Augustin contributed 10.
Young then packed eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, into the first 6:50 of the third quarter, as the Sixers crept within one, at 64-63.
Noah answered with a pair of baskets, and Boozer added a three-point play and a layup in the quarter’s closing minutes, giving the Bulls a 75-69 lead.
NOTES: Sixers coach Brett Brown said before the game that Bulls C Joakim Noah is his example for Philadelphia rookie C Nerlens Noel, who has yet to play as a pro after injuring a knee during his lone season at the University of Kentucky. Brown mentioned in particular how much respect he has for Noah as a competitor. “What a fantastic comparison to show Nerlens,” he said. … Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau broke into the NBA as an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989-90, when they were a first-year expansion team, and he sees parallels between their situation and the one facing the Sixers. “You’re just looking to make progress,” he said. “Sometimes you’re measuring that: Are we playing up to our potential?” … Sixers G/F James Anderson missed his second consecutive game with a bruised right quadriceps. … Brown was assessed a technical foul with 5:50 left in the second quarter.
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