Sixers' losing streak hits 24 in loss to Bulls

Sixers' losing streak hits 24 in loss to Bulls
March 22, 2014, 11:45 pm
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Thaddeus Young scored 28 points Saturday night, but the Sixers' losing streak hit 24 in a 91-81 loss to the Bulls. (AP)


CHICAGO -- When a team is on a historic losing streak, there aren’t many new ways to describe yet another setback.

The Sixers' franchise-worst losing streak hit 24 games Saturday night in a 91-81 loss to the Bulls at the United Center (see Instant Replay).

So head coach Brett Brown is using a different metric to examine the Sixers.

“We’ve stayed away from dealing with winning and losing and are focused on development and practice,” Brown said. “We are on a different report card than most teams in the league at this stage in the season. I hope that has helped us stay together and focus on what’s important.”

Thaddeus Young scored a game-high 28 points -- two off his season high -- despite 10-of-26 shooting (38 percent). Center Henry Sims added 18 points and 15 rebounds.  

Center Joakim Noah paced the Bulls with 20 points while guard Jimmy Buttler had 17.

Brown’s report card would grade his team high on free-throw shooting after they went 20 of 22 (90.9 percent). 

But he’d fail the Sixers for wretched three-point shooting. They managed a season-low 1 of 20 (5.0 percent) from beyond the arc. And overall shooting wouldn’t rate much higher after the Sixers finished 30 of 87 (34.5 percent) from the field.

“Going 1 for 20 from the three-point line obviously hurts us,” Brown said. “You are going to need to find points to score against this well-coached team.”

Chicago’s crowding near the bucket opened up ample three-point opportunities.

“They pack the paint so we were getting a lot of three-point shots,” said Young. “They were wide open looks and we just didn’t make them.”

Rookie Hollis Thompson stepped in for injured guard Tony Wroten, out with a sprained right ankle suffered Friday against the Knicks. He played 32 minutes and had six points and three rebounds.

The Sixers shot just 33.3 percent (3 of 9) in the first 6:23, but were perfect (6 of 6) on free throws as they opened a 12-8 lead. Chicago managed just 2 of 12 (16.7 percent) in the same span. The Bulls tied at 19-19 on D.J. Augustin’s baseline three-pointer with 3:24 showing, but got no closer as the Sixers went on to a 25-20 lead by quarter’s end.

Augustin gave Chicago a 39-38 lead with his three-pointer with 1:28 showing and Taj Gibson added a jumper with 30 seconds left as the Bulls pulled out to a 41-38 halftime lead. Young paced the Sixers with 10 first-half points, but struggled with 4-of-15 shooting -- including 0 of 5 on three-pointers.

Chicago maintained an advantage through the third, leading by as many as eight points on the way to a 65-59 lead entering the final quarter. Noah’s layup with 8:19 to play and subsequent three-pointer from Kirk Hinrich then gave the Bulls their first 10-point lead at 76-66. 

The Sixers never got closer than seven points while Chicago opened leads of as many as 12 points down the stretch.

“That’s a good team, a lot of teams don’t give them credit,” said Bulls forward Taj Gibson, who collected a team-high 10 rebounds. “When you play against teams like that it’s really hard because they are tired of losing. They (were) playing with a lot of confidence early and we just found a way to win.”

The Sixers gave Chicago a scare Wednesday in Philadelphia before the Bulls pulled out a 102-94 victory behind Augustin’s 20 points.

Since then, the Sixers dropped a 93-92 home decision to the Knicks on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center and lost Wroten in the process.

“It makes us go down the food chain, go into some of your young guys,” Brown said before the game. “I’d to see a little more (James) Nunnally, he’s only been with us a second. D.J.O. (Darius Johnson-Odum) I’d like to see a little bit. He’s been with us for a while.”

Wroten was third on the Sixers with a 13.4 point average. Nunnally signed a 10-day contract on March 17 and has averaged 4.1 points in three appearances. Johnson-Odom has played in two games and hasn’t scored in 5.4 minutes of action.

Brown said Wroten is out for the entire three-game road trip, which concludes Thursday at Houston.

“We’ve lost a significant piece of what we’re doing,” Brown said. “But it’s just another way of getting other people on the court that otherwise wouldn’t have that chance.”

Nunnally played more than 14 minutes Saturday, but missed his three shots while collecting one defensive rebound. Johnson-Odom logged 4 1/2 minutes and missed his two tries from the field.

The Sixers (15-55) haven't won since Jan. 29 in 95-94 victory over Boston. As woeful as they’ve been they still aren’t the NBA’s worst. Idle Milwaukee was 13-56, 38 games behind first-place Indiana in the Central Division.

Despite continuing disappointment Sims said the team remains upbeat.

“We come to work every day and come to every game to win,” he said. “The losses are in the back of our minds. We just worry about coming in to win and staying positive. Every game is a new game.”