CHICAGO (AP)—Ben Gordon has regained his scoring touch.
Gordon scored nine of his 21 points during a 16-point third-quarter run to lead the Bulls to their most lopsided victory of the season, 117-84 over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year and top sixth man is averaging 24.3 points over the last seven games.
“I think I’m putting together more consistent games,” Gordon said. “That’s important for me right now. We need to continue to play like that.”
“I can do it,” the second-year pro said.
After scoring 30 or more in four of the previous six games, Gordon was 8-for-13 from the field. Chicago entered the All-Star break two games behind the struggling 76ers in the race for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
Kirk Hinrich scored 18, and reserve forward Malik Allen added a season-high 16 for the Bulls. Andres Nocioni scored 16, and Tyson Chandler grabbed 11 rebounds, his 11th consecutive game in double figures. Michael Sweetney added 10 points and 12 boards.
After rallying to beat San Antonio in overtime on Wednesday, the Sixers played with little energy. They shot just 26-for-76, while the Bulls were 46-for-88. And Chicago held a 53-30 rebounding edge.
“We just got whipped, from the beginning of the game right to the end,” Iverson said. “They played really well.”
For the Sixers, it’s the perfect time for a break, right?
To Webber, yes. To Iverson, no.
“I hope we get rested and rejuvenated,” Webber said. “Hopefully, this gives us time to figure some things out.”
Iverson would just as soon keep playing.
“After a loss like this, the break comes at a really bad time,” he said. “You just want to get right back on the court.”
The Bulls (23-29) saw a 22-point lead shrink to 57-46 at halftime. Philadelphia (25-27) got within nine in the third quarter before Chicago put it away. With the score 59-50, Gordon ignited the deciding run with a jumper, and Hinrich hit a 3-pointer. A basket by Othella Harrington made it 68-50 just under three minutes into the third and sent the Sixers into a timeout.
The Bulls continued to pour it on.
Gordon drove across the lane, flung the ball into the basket as he crashed to the court, and hit the free throw to complete the three-point play. And he hit another jumper that made it 75-50 with 6:30 left in the quarter.
Chicago has struggled at the United Center this season, going 11-14. The Bulls have lost four games in overtime, including Tuesday’s 105-101 loss to Sacramento.
This time, they jumped all over the Sixers, taking a 38-22 lead after one quarter.
The 38 points were Chicago’s season-high for the opening period and one shy of its high for any quarter.
“I thought we were active on both ends,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “Our defense is coming around. We are going on a good month now with solid defense. A lot of times in critical moments we have not been able to get stops. That activity carried over to the offensive end. We did a good job of trying to penetrate, get in the paint, and make plays for each other.”
A Philadelphia team that rallied from five down in the final 20 seconds of regulation and beat San Antonio in overtime had little steam. The Sixers were slow on defense. Their shots were short. And they were no match for Chicago on the boards, where the Bulls held an astonishing 15-3 advantage in the first quarter.
“The biggest thing for us is to get a win at home,” Allen said. “We play well on the road. We’re (11-14) at home, and we have to turn that around in order for us to make a run at the playoffs. We let one get away from us the other night. This was the biggest game of the season for us.”
The Bulls and Sixers play three more times. … Bulls G Chris Duhon had four points and seven assists in 25 minutes after missing the previous two games with a thigh bruise. … The Bulls allowed F James Thomas’ second 10-day contract to expire. He averaged 0.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in seven appearances with Chicago.