The Bulls couldn't wait to get going Thursday night in Philadelphia.
They produced the highest-scoring, season-opening first quarter in franchise history, piling up 41 points.
Once the opening sprint was over, though, and the game settled down, this matchup quickly developed into how one would expect a short-handed rebuilding team to perform.
The host 76ers pulled away quickly in the third quarter and jogged to a 127-108 victory at the Wells Fargo Center. The Bulls will return home to face Detroit on Saturday at the United Center.
"Second quarter, we got very stagnant, started taking bad shots and that got them out in transition," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters after the game. "The third quarter was the difference. They got off to a 19-3 run to start the quarter and we could never recover. We've got to sustain 48 minutes of effort and playing the right way and we'll have a chance."
Not only were the Bulls short-handed for this game, they started an unfamiliar lineup.
Point guard Kris Dunn did not play, leaving to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their son. So Cameron Payne got the start, while Lauri Markkanen (elbow), Denzel Valentine (ankle) and Cristiano Felicio (ankle) were not available because of injuries.
There weren't many complaints with the offense. Zach LaVine started his healthy year on the right foot, scoring 30 points. Bobby Portis added 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Jabari Parker and Antonio Blakeney produced 15 each.
"It's a little bit of a punch to the gut, but there's 81 more," LaVine said.
That first quarter was truly amazing as Portis and LaVine combined to hit 11 of 12 shots with four 3-pointers. At one point, the Bulls made 13 consecutive shots.
It was the highest-scoring quarter on opening night in Bulls history. The previous mark for best first-quarter start was 34 points against Washington in 1984, Michael Jordan's rookie year.
But while scoring all those points, the Bulls never opened much of a lead, so the problems were easy to spot. They tried to concoct a scheme to combat Philadelphia's poor shooting guards -- sagging off on defense, going under screens and trying to fight through picks instead of switching.
It didn't work very well, obviously. The Bulls spent a lot of time scrambling, trying to cover open shooters and getting out of position. They also struggled to reel in loose balls and 50-50 rebounds. The Sixers finished with a 55-39 edge in rebounds and 30-12 in free-throw attempts. The Bulls will hope the defense works better when Dunn gets back.
Rookie Wendell Carter Jr. was mostly overwhelmed by Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, who finished with 30 points and 12 boards. Carter stayed out of foul trouble but managed just 3 rebounds and 8 points.
Payne did not fare well as a starter. He didn't score, missed 4 shots and dished out 4 assists in 22 minutes. Philadelphia native Ryan Arcidiacono played more minutes and led the Bulls with 8 assists.
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons picked up his third triple-double (13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists) in four career games against the Bulls. Proviso West grad Robert Covington scored 20 for the home team, while Philly fans just about stormed the court when Markelle Fultz (12 points) knocked down his first career 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
* Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls
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|Publication:||Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)|
|Date:||Oct 19, 2018|
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