If there's anything worse for the Chicago Bulls than watching point guard Derrick Rose blow out his ACL in the team's first round series vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, maybe it's letting a still winnable series slip out of their grasp as they struggle to put together an offense with their star missing in action. The scenario got closer to playing itself out on Friday night, as the Bulls squandered a fourth quarter double-digit lead, losing 79-74 to the Sixers and falling down in the series 2-1.
After falling apart in the second half of Game 2, the Bulls looked like they'd put the halt on any plans to a sequel. Their league-leading defense totally smothered the Sixers offense, allowing only 11 points as they stretched their lead to as much as 11 early in the fourth. But shortly after that Chicago more or less ceased being able to score, shooting 6-24 in the final quarter as Philadelphia slowly inched its way back into the game.
The Sixers took the lead for good with just over two minutes left in the game, when center Spencer Hawes drained a jumper to put Philly up 72-71. John Lucas III provided some life late when he hit a three to bring Philadelphia's lead to 75-74, but the Sixers would hit four free throws to close out the game. The Bulls not only weren't able to score in the fourth, but they were unable to get to the line or make free throws when they did, and they dropped tonight's game despite holding the Sixers to under 35% shooting from the field, including 1-14 from three point range.
The two teams will pick it up again for Game 4 on Sunday in Philly at noon CT.