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76ers avoid crumbling against Bulls until final minutes

Augustin, Bulls survive rare challenge from 76ers
Augustin, Bulls survive rare challenge from 76ers
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Philadelphia 76ers only have moral victories over the last several weeks, instead of real ones. The Sixers got one of those moral wins over the Chicago Bulls on March 19, and could even dream of a real one for a while. Yet once the Sixers tied the score at 85 with seven minutes left, the Bulls woke up and made this game just like the last 21 for Philadelphia.

The Bulls' 102-94 victory was one of survival, as the Sixers actually put up a challenge for the third time in their last four losses. But as in their two recent near-misses against the Indiana Pacers, the Sixers didn't have enough against this Central Division playoff team either.

D.J Augustin led Chicago with 20 points, while Taj Gibson added a 19 point, 13 rebound double double. But none of that put Philadelphia down by more than 11 points all night, which is a rarity onto itself. Yet even when the Sixers did something right, like connect on 11-of-24 three pointers, they still did something equally wrong, like only make 9-of-19 free throws.

The last highlight for the Sixers came when Thaddeus Young got them even at 85 on a three-pointer. However, Joakim Noah and Augustin rose up with three's of their own to get the Bulls back ahead for good. The Sixers only got as close as three points after that, giving out as usual.

The Bulls were actually one of the least formidable opponents the Sixers stood to face, before they could equal an NBA-record 26-game losing streak. Although the New York Knicks lie next on March 21, even they have a seven-game winning streak to brag about now.

If Philadelphia can't win there, then it would have to knock off the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets or Chicago to avoid the tie. The Sixers' next opponent with nothing to play for is the Detroit Pistons -- the team that can hand them a 27'th straight loss.

Although the Bulls didn't look like they had something to play for in stretches, they did in the one stretch that mattered, as all of Philadelphia's opponents eventually do.

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