Sixers vs. Bulls: Winning streak ends with double-overtime loss to Chicago

3 observations after Sixers' winning streak ends with double-overtime loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers played 10 extra minutes for naught on Monday night.

The team's winning streak ended at eight games with a 109-105 loss in double overtime to the Bulls at Wells Fargo Center.

Joel Embiid posted his 10th consecutive game with at least 30 points. He scored 37 and pulled down 16 rebounds.

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Tyrese Maxey recorded 22 points and six assists.

Zach LaVine (26 points), DeMar DeRozan (25) and Nikola Vucevic (21) were Chicago's top scorers.

P.J. Tucker (left ankle soreness) and Alex Caruso (left foot soreness) were out.

The Sixers celebrated the 40th anniversary of their 1982-83 championship team at halftime. The team had strong attendance, including Hall of Famers Julius Erving and Bobby Jones. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said pregame that he’s been in touch with Andrew Toney and “we need to get him back here.”

Erving at halftime challenged this year's Sixers to end the franchise's title drought "because 40 years is way too long."


The 48-23 Sixers will head to Chicago and play the Bulls again on Wednesday night. Here are observations on their tight loss Monday:

Offenses in the mud 

Danuel House Jr. again started in place of Tucker. He gave the team several solid defensive possessions early against DeRozan, playing tight defense and limiting mid-range opportunities without falling for any fakes.

With 5:22 to go in the first quarter, House immediately insisted Rivers challenge his foul on DeRozan, a request his coach did not honor. It was quite an ambitious ask in the first quarter, though the call did indeed seem generous to DeRozan. Overall, House’s stint was another decent one in a good month for him personally since re-entering the Sixers’ rotation mix.


Offensively, both teams got off to rough starts. James Harden committed a turnover on the Sixers’ first possession and Embiid had a giveaway on the second when he dribbled loosely into traffic. Chicago opened 2 for 10 from the floor. The Sixers turned the ball over 10 times in the first 18 minutes.

The Sixers eventually found a few things that worked. House canned a transition corner three, Tobias Harris and De’Anthony Melton knocked down triples soon after, and the Sixers held a 22-17 lead after the first quarter. Embiid ended the period with nine points, one below his Eastern Conference-best first-quarter scoring average leading into the night.

What to make of House's night 

Chicago rotated so that Vucevic was on the court while Embiid sat early in the second quarter.


Initially, the Sixers looked fine with their usual lineup in that spot of Harden and four bench players. Melton made a three from his sweet spot on the right wing, Harden scored his first basket on a leaner against Coby White, and Paul Reed set Melton up for a layup after grabbing an offensive board. However, the game took a sour turn for the Sixers. Georges Niang had a poor stretch that included two missed threes, two turnovers, and a foul on a made DeRozan mid-range jumper. Even following Niang’s exit, the Bulls continued on a run that ultimately stretched to 17-2 and built a seven-point lead.

The Sixers improved with their starters back together, although they still faced a 44-40 halftime deficit. Harden shot just 1 for 7 from the floor in the first half and Tyrese Maxey was 2 for 6. Embiid only scored two points in the second quarter.

For better and for worse, House often seemed to be in the middle of the game’s strangeness. After Harris blocked a DeRozan mid-range try, House snagged the loose ball and jetted off like he planned to throw down an earth-shattering dunk. He drew a blocking call on Patrick Beverley and split the ensuing free throws. LaVine then beat House off the dribble and converted a reverse, and-one layup through contact from Embiid.

Outside of the chaotic sequences, House made some nice plays when the Bulls closed out on him. Some of those were a bit flashy, like an impressive dump-off dish to Harris for a dunk, but others were simply moving the ball briskly or pump faking, probing the defense, and hitting an open man on the perimeter. Even though his style doesn’t exude dependability, he’s shown lately a few of the ways he might be able to help the Sixers in the playoffs if called upon.


Sixers can't quite overcome Harden's struggles

Embiid shifted up a couple of gears early in the third quarter.

In the period’s first few minutes, he had a mid-range jumper, an and-one layup, a driving dunk, and a block on DeRozan. He was more determined to force whistles, too. Embiid’s 10th made free throw tied the game at 53-all.

Harden’s issues generating easy looks (and converting the ones he got) made it difficult for the Sixers to sustain momentum, though. He didn’t fare well against Beverley’s pressure or Patrick Williams’ size. In the Sixers’ three matchups thus far vs. Chicago, Harden has gone 8 for 44 (18.2 percent) from the field.


Notably, Harden rose gingerly after not receiving a foul call on a drive late in the second quarter. Rivers said postgame that Harden's foot was "hurting a little bit." The 10-time All-Star did not speak to reporters after the game.

To start the fourth, Harden was downright shaky. He air-balled a jumper from the right elbow, got stripped by DeRozan, and threw an ill-advised pass to Harris late in the shot clock that DeRozan deflected out of bounds.

Rivers made a good move to use Shake Milton alongside Harden. Milton did well early in the fourth, driving in for a lefty layup and connecting with Reed on an alley-oop. Melton (19 points, four steals) hit multiple huge shots, too. His transition three gave the Sixers a 85-84 edge. The 24-year-old closed the game over House.

Jalen McDaniels did not play in the fourth quarter or the overtimes. In his second game back following a right hip injury, McDaniels' movement was still noticeably worse than his norm.


“He didn’t look good," Rivers said. “That’s why I took him out. He wasn’t moving well, so we took him off the floor.”

Embiid picking up his fifth foul with 6:16 remaining in regulation put the Sixers in a trickier position, decreasing the aggressiveness of their rim-protecting cornerstone. Of course, that situation didn't entirely negate Embiid's defensive impact. He swatted away a DeRozan layup to ensure the game stayed tied at 89 apiece. Embiid now has multiple blocks in seven straight games.

The Sixers' offensive execution was not especially sharp down the stretch. One late possession concluded with a shot-clock violation when a desperation Harris three-point attempt hit the side of the backboard. DeRozan then drained a go-ahead jumper over Harris.

Maxey drove in for a game-tying layup with 33.3 seconds left and Melton nabbed a clutch steal on DeRozan, but the Sixers couldn't quite manage a dramatic win in regulation. Maxey missed a three from the left wing on the team's final possession.


Harden came up short on a catch-and-shoot three in the first overtime, but Beverley soon presented him with a free point when he fouled him before the Sixers inbounded the ball. Harden's free throw cut the Sixers' deficit to 95-94. However, the Sixers didn't maximize that break. Melton missed a three and then conceded a jumper to LaVine at the nail. With four Sixers over 40 minutes at that stage, Rivers called timeout. The Sixers' after-timeout play worked to perfection; Maxey curled up to the top of the key and sunk a gigantic three.

Embiid and DeRozan traded baskets before another low moment for Harden, who dribbled into trouble on the right side of the floor and lost the ball to DeRozan. Fortunately for the Sixers, the six-time All-Star missed a jumper over House and the teams had to play a second extra session.

A minute and six seconds into the second overtime, the Sixers lost Embiid when LaVine drew the big man's sixth foul. Paul Reed subbed in and the Sixers ran their offense through Harden at the nail on consecutive possessions. It produced back-to-back buckets — a Maxey runner and Harris baseline jumper — to lift the team to a 105-101 edge. Still, neither team could gain a decisive advantage; DeRozan scored twice inside and Maxey air-balled two threes.

Melton then misinterpreted Rivers' instruction on the sidelines, fouling LaVine with 51.4 seconds left and the Sixers over the limit. LaVine's free throws put the Bulls up 107-105.


“That was a miscommunication again," Rivers said. “We were saying, ‘No left, no left’ all night with LaVine. He went left a lot, and De’Anthony thought that (signal) was ‘Foul to give.’ So that’s on both of us.”

The Sixers had two game-tying looks and came up empty on both. Derrick Jones Jr. swatted away a Harden layup try and Harris saw his jumper go in and out. While the Sixers have pulled off their share of improbable wins this season, a 2-for-14 night from Harden was a tad too much to work around Monday.