Instant Replay: Bulls 91, Sixers 81

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Instant Replay: Bulls 91, Sixers 81

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CHICAGO -- The Sixers now stand alone as they close in on the NBA’s all-time consecutive game losing streak record.

A tight game slipped out of reach in the fourth quarter as Chicago beat the Sixers for the second time in five days Saturday night at the United Center with a 91-81 victory.

The loss was the Sixers' 24th straight as they broke out of a four-way tie for a second place mark for consecutive losses they shared with Vancouver (1995-96), Denver (1997-98) and Charlotte (2011-12). The 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers lead with 26 straight defeats.

The Sixers, now 15-55, could match the mark Thursday at Houston.

Turning point
Joakim Noah’s layup with 8:19 to play and subsequent three-pointer from Kirk Hinrich 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.

Follow the leader
Forward Thaddeus Young scored a game team-high 28 points despite 10-of-26 shooting (38 percent) while center Henry Sims added 18 points and 15 rebounds. Noah paced Chicago with 20 points while Jimmy Butler had 17.

Stat-egic
The Sixers were 54.4 percent shooting free throws over the past four games (43 of 79) but were perfect to start Saturday with 9 for 9 until the 5:25 mark of the second quarter, when James Anderson missed the first of two. The Sixers ended 20 of 22 for the game (90.9 percent). ... Tony Wroten’s ankle injury suffered Friday in New York will keep the Sixers’ No. 3 scorer (13.3 points) sidelined at least through late next week.

Take a bow
There were still three minutes left in the third quarter, but Sims already had his third double-double of the season and second in two games with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He finished with 18 points and 15 boards.

What’s next?
The Sixers could extend their franchise-record losing streak to 25 as they play the second in a three-game road trip Monday in San Antonio. They’re two games away from matching the Cavaliers’ all-time NBA record of 26 consecutive losses (Dec. 20, 2010 through Feb. 9, 2011).

Joel Embiid admits to aggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid admits to aggravating foot injury after 2014 surgery, almost quitting

Joel Embiid trusts the Process, more so than anyone — the process of patience.

After sitting out two whole seasons because of foot injuries, Embiid learned the importance of patience the hard way.

Appearing on a special "Next Generation" of NBA TV's Open Court, Joel Embiid opened up about how he aggravated the fracture in his foot that cost him the 2015-16 season.

"I didn't know how to deal with patience," Embiid said on the roundtable discussion, which also included Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and D'Angelo Russell.

"I just wanted to do stuff, that's why I think I needed a second surgery. Because after my first one, I just wanted to play basketball again. I just wanted to be on the court and I pushed through what I wasn't supposed to.

"At one point I thought about quitting. I just wanted to come back home and just forget everything."

Embiid went on to discuss the Sixers' turnaround this season — notably their improvements in crunch time — and his mindset during his recovery. Watch the full clip below. 

When asked which player he models his game after, Embiid went with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

NBA power rankings: Sixers can't escape the lower third

With the NBA's glorified exhibition in the rearview mirror, we reenter reality of the remaining NBA season. The Sixers still are looking for suitors for Jahlil Okafor while questions swirl around about the health of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 

Some claim they are tanking still, and if those people are talking about the recent NBA power rankings then they would be right. 

Games before the All-Star break
Last Monday and Wednesday the Sixers split their two games before the break, beating the Hornets and losing to the Celtics. 

Dario Saric continues to be the Sixers' most productive player in the absence of Embiid. In the short week, he averaged 19 points (a team leader in that category both games) and 11 rebounds. 

T.J. McConnell continues to control the floor at the point, dishing out seven assists against the Hornets and eight against the Celtics. 

An inability to finish has been the story for the Sixers without Embiid. The Sixers led by one at the half against the Hornets and were tied with the Celtics at the midway point. These are good signs, but these guys are far from being contenders in the east. The experts agree. 

What's next
Only two games this week for the 76ers: Friday at home against the Wizards (7 p.m./CSN) and on the road on Sunday to play the Knicks (7:30 p.m./CSN).

What the experts say
ESPN’s Marc Stein had some fun with his rankings this week using tweets and memes to describe a team’s current situation. The Sixers dropped from 20 to 23 in his rankings — not a significant drop but a drop nonetheless. 

He used this one in his evaluation of the Sixers:

NBA.com’s John Schuhmann bumped the Sixers up from 22 to 21 this week. He sees great improvement in Saric’s game stating: “Saric has already shown a lot of improvement and TLC, with his length on the perimeter, could prove to be a great fit next to the other core pieces if he can knock down shots.”

He added a positive thought on the Demarcus Cousins trade and how the Sixers still made out well even though they were not able to ship Okafor to the Pelicans. 

“The Sixers lost a potential trading partner with the DeMarcus Cousins trade to New Orleans, but still came out a winner in the deal, because they can swap first round picks with the Kings this year and own Sacramento's pick (with no protections) in 2019.”

Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes did not move the 76ers from the 21 spot on his list last week. He writes that he is intrigued with this processing team: “Sorry, but I'm never going to stop being delighted by the Sixers finding ways to win.”

He made his prediction for games won by the Sixers if they get Embiid back on the court: “It's hard to know what Simmons might bring, but Embiid's contributions are well understood. If he makes it back and looks healthy, Philly could easily win 30-plus games.”

Finally, Fox Sports’ Andrew Lynch dropped the Sixers from 27 to 28 – yikes! His outlook is very pessimistic as he looks exclusively at the injuries of Embiid and Simmons. He writes that a complete shutdown of Simmons would make sense as the season’s end gets closer by the day.