The Philadelphia 76ers looked to have hit a wall on Nov. 2. While the Sixers stunned the Miami Heat and rallied over the Washington Wizards earlier that week, beating the Chicago Bulls appeared to be too tough a task. The Sixers seemed to prove it when they fell behind by as many as 18 points -- then disproved it with a 107-104 rally and upset anyway.
The Sixers were terrible in the fourth quarter and clutch time last season, back when they were expected to be respectable. With absolutely no expectations going into this season, except to lose 70 games, Philadelphia has instead been the most clutch team in the NBA in this opening week.
Chicago was up by 15 at halftime and by as much as 18 during the night. But the Sixers cut it down in the third quarter and hung around until they finally took the lead with 3 1/2 minutes left. Derrick Rose gave the Bulls the lead back with a three-point, yet played a part in giving it back to the Sixers with two costly turnovers.
The Bulls fell down by 105-104 and had to make a stop with seconds left. Instead, Spencer Hawes put the game away for the Sixers with a jump shot, although Luol Deng had to miss a three-pointer before it became official.
After struggling a bit in his second NBA game, Michael Carter-Williams returned to the form he showed in his debut against the Heat. This time, Carter-Williams had 26 points, 10 assists and three steals to cap off his first week of play. However, the continued surprise success of Hawes and Evan Turner has been an even bigger help, as Turner racked up 20 points and Hawes' final jumper gave him 18.
The Sixers have now beaten the East's top two projected contenders, although the Heat didn't play Dwayne Wade and the Bulls are still adjusting to having Rose back. But no asterisk or loophole was supposed to help Philadelphia win any games this year, let alone the first three.
Three consecutive clutch fourth quarters have given the Sixers wins that no one expected from them. At the least, if they finish 8-74 anyway, it will be an even more historic level of badness.