Bulls go to double overtime again, finally get first win over Embiid
The Bulls' path to defeating MVP candidate Joel Embiid included some hard times and rough collisions Monday.
Patrick Beverley successfully took a charge against Embiid in the first half. Coby White was shaken up when he tried to do the same late in the third quarter and took an elbow to the chin. Both foul calls could have gone either way.
The Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers battled into double overtime and Embiid fouled out after piling up 37 points and 16 rebounds, opening the door for the Bulls to pull off a 109-105 victory, snapping the Sixers' eight-game win streak.
So this result marks the first time Embiid has ever lost to the Bulls. He was 12-0 heading into this game, but now the Bulls overall are 8-4 since Beverley joined the team. They're now just a half-game behind ninth-place Toronto and one game behind eighth-place Atlanta with 11 left in the regular season.
The play of the game from the Bulls' perspective was turned in by Derrick Jones Jr. on the defensive end. With Philadelphia trailing by 2, James Harden found a path to the rim, but Jones slid over from the weak side and the former dunk contest champ swatted Harden's layup attempt. Jones also secured the rebound after Tobias Harris missed a shot after the block. Coby White added 2 free throws with six seconds left to seal the Bulls' third straight win. They also pulled off a double overtime victory Friday against Minnesota.
"We've just got to compete and we've got to play with an urgency and a toughness and a physicality," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said after the game. "I like our huddles a lot more in terms of our communication. There were times I think in the past sometimes we'd get a little quiet. I think guys were trying to internalize what they have to do.
"But we've got to do it together. Everybody's got a job to do, but we've got to do our jobs together. I'm hopeful that will help us grow, just that mentality to fight and compete in those moments."
This was a defensive struggle for most of the night. Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 26 points and DeMar DeRozan added 25, but neither player shot well. Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Vucevic, LaVine and DeRozan combined for 10 steals, while Ayo Dosunmu was credited with a pair of blocks.
Jones has been out of the rotation lately, but with Alex Caruso sidelined by a foot injury, he got a chance Monday and spent some time guarding Harden, who hit just 2 of 14 shots. Jones hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and finished with 10 points in 16 minutes.
Javonte Green returned from a knee injury to see game action for the first time since Dec. 31, and played nine minutes.
The Bulls survived the end of regulation when DeRozan lost the ball as he tried to put a move on Harris, giving the Sixers the last possession in a tie game. But Tyrese Maxey (22 points) missed a long 3-pointer.
The Bulls had the final shot in the first overtime and DeRozan missed a long jumper. At the 3:54 mark of the second overtime, Embiid picked up his sixth foul on a reach-in against LaVine and the Sixers did not challenge the call.
Without Embiid, Philadelphia took a 4 point lead, but DeRozan scored twice to tie it, then LaVine put the Bulls ahead on 2 free throws with 51.4 seconds left.
The Bulls got a defensive stop, then lost the ball in strange fashion. LaVine collided with De'Anthony Melton in the backcourt, sending him falling backward with no foul called. Melton got off the floor and picked LaVine's pocket from behind, setting up the final sequence.
This is the Bulls' second win in Philadelphia this season, though Embiid didn't play in the first one. These teams meet again at the United Center on Wednesday.