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76ers' late surge overtakes Bulls, 79-74

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner said he and his teammates adopted a simple approach when they fell behind the Chicago Bulls by 14 points with 10:15 left in Game 3 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series Friday night.

"The only thing we could do was keep the faith," he said, "and really believe."

The eighth-seeded Sixers then did the unbelievable, outscoring the No. 1 Bulls 26-7 down the stretch to pull out a 79-74 victory and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Center Spencer Hawes scored 21 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:11 left. Jrue Holiday added 17 and Turner had 16, and the two young guards combined to make 7 of 8 free throws in the final 1:24.

The Sixers won despite shooting 34.2 percent from the floor and missing 13 of 14 3-point attempts. They also were outrebounded, 49-43.

To Sixers coach Doug Collins, it "looked like we were just not going to be able to find a way to score."

But, he added, "You get into a series and it becomes about the will to win, the 50-50 balls, all those little things."

Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Bulls, who built a 67-53 lead with 10:15 left. Chicago was still leading 71-64 with 5:03 remaining, but the Sixers reeled off the next 11 points and scored 15 of the game's last 18 points in all.

"On the road you've got to play 48 minutes," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "Going into the last two minutes, the game's there to be had. You've got to find a way to win."

Instead it was the Sixers who did so, something they had seldom done during the regular season. They were just 5-18 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

Hawes' jumper from the left wing with 2:11 left put the Sixers ahead to stay at 72-71. Turner made two free throws with 1:24 to play and Holiday added another with 49 seconds left, but Chicago guard John Lucas III sank a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 75-74 with 43 seconds remaining.

On the next Sixers possession, Turner drove hard to the basket, but his shot was blocked by Luol Deng. But Turner recovered the loose ball in traffic, drew a foul from Omer Asik and connected twice at the line with 20.1 seconds left.

Collins called that "the single biggest play for us this year."

Turner was just happy to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line.

"The biggest thing you can show me," he said, "is that you have confidence in me."

Holiday added two free throws with 13 seconds left, accounting for the final margin.

The Sixers outscored the Bulls 28-14 and limited the visitors to 24-percent shooting in the fourth quarter, after shooting 4-for-21 from the field while being outscored 21-11 in the third period.

Rip Hamilton scored 17 points and Joakim Noah and Lucas finished with 12 apiece for the Bulls, who lost star guard Derrick Rose to a knee injury in Game 1 of this series.

Noah also sprained his left ankle in the third quarter, and while he later tried to return, he was unable to continue.

"Injuries are part of the game," Thibodeau said. "You've got to have a mental toughness to get past all that. You just deal with it."

Lou Williams scored 14 points for the Sixers but fell hard on his back with 5:16 left.

NOTES: Friday's game was the first the Sixers played in the Wells Fargo Center since April 17. Their last five regular-season games were on the road. "I told our coaches when I came back in this building today, it was almost like it was a new season, we've been gone so long," Collins said. ... Thibodeau was a Sixers assistant in '94-95 and '95-96, when the team went 24-58 and 18-64, respectively, under head coach John Lucas. "The team wasn't very good ... but all the other stuff was very good," Thibodeau said. "It's a great basketball city -- college, pro, high school. It's a great area, and people understand the game." John III, John's son and now the Bulls guard, was one of the ballboys on those teams. ... The Sixers announced at halftime that all-time great Julius Erving has been hired to the new position of strategic adviser to the organization. ... Actor/comedian Bill Murray, an Illinois native, was part of the sellout crowd. ... Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
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