Instant Replay: Bulls 91, Sixers 81

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Instant Replay: Bulls 91, Sixers 81

BOX SCORE

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).

NBA Playoffs: Nene, Rockets take 3-1 series lead on Thunder

NBA Playoffs: Nene, Rockets take 3-1 series lead on Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder (see full recap).

Cavs hold off Pacers, earn sweep into 2nd round
INDIANAPOLIS -- LeBron James made a 3-pointer with 68 seconds left Sunday and the Cleveland Cavaliers hung on for a 106-102 series-clinching victory at Indiana.

James finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds as he became the first player under the current playoff format to win 21 straight first-round games. He also set a league record with his 10th career playoff sweep.

It sure wasn't easy. After taking a 96-83 lead with 9:29 to go, the Cavs found themselves in a 102-100 deficit with 1:31 left.

But James answered with the go-ahead 3-pointer and Cleveland sealed the win on James' free throw with 1 second left.

Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and Paul George added 15 but missed a 3-pointer that could have forced overtime in the closing seconds. It's the first time the Pacers have lost a series 4-0 in their NBA history (see full recap).

Thomas, Celtics top Bulls to tie series, 2-2
CHICAGO -- Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists (see full recap).

NBA Notes: Bulls' Rajon Rondo fined $25k for tripping incident

NBA Notes: Bulls' Rajon Rondo fined $25k for tripping incident

CHICAGO -- The NBA has fined Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo $25,000 for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3 of their first-round series.

The league announced the fine hours before Game 4 tips off on Sunday.

The incident happened with 31.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter on Friday.

Crowder jawed at the Bulls' bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo -- sidelined by a broken right thumb -- extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

The top-seeded Celtics went on to win 104-87 after dropping the first two games at home. Rondo said afterward he was simply stretching his leg.

ROCKETS: Beverly fined for postgame incident in OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The NBA has fined Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley $25,000 for confronting a fan after Game 3 of the team's first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off Sunday.

Beverley had two incidents with the same fan Friday night in Oklahoma City. Video shows Beverley falling in front of the fan in the first half of the game, then getting up and pointing at him before teammate Nene redirected him.

Beverley also exchanged words with the fan after the game. The NBA specifically mentioned the postgame incident as the one for which Beverley was fined.

Houston leads the series 2-1. Beverley is the primary player responsible for guarding NBA scoring champion Russell Westbrook.