The Philadelphia 76ers had no choice but to put up a fight against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 28. After Doug Collins called out the Sixers’ lack of effort against the Orlando Magic on Feb. 26, doing even worse in Chicago would have been humiliating. By that low standard, Philadelphia got a small victory despite not winning on the scoreboard.
The Sixers only lost by 93-82 to the playoff bound Bulls on the road, which is better than losing by 98-84 to the lowly Magic at home. Yet despite making a marginal improvement, it still wasn’t enough for Philadelphia to get an actual win.
With the Sixers now at 22-34, real wins are the only thing that can turn this team around. Otherwise, the season will be defined by Collins’ postgame rant as well as Andrew Bynum’s injuries. The healthier Sixers could have taken Collins’ challenge and shown that they will fight to save this season, yet they didn’t show it enough in Chicago.
However, there’s only so much a team can do when it allows someone to get 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks, as Joakim Noah pulled off. With Noah annihilating Spencer Hawes in the paint and Carlos Boozer chipping in 21 points, the Sixers were at a disadvantage throughout.
Collins could have ranted all he wanted and the players could have been as fired up as possible, but none of that is enough if they don’t have the ability. The simple truth was that Hawes and the Sixers didn’t have the talent to stand up to Noah and the Bulls. Laziness and incompetence brought about the loss to the pathetic Magic, but even a fully engaged Sixers team may not have enough to win.
It wasn’t like the Bulls were as overwhelming as usual. They were in a slump of their own and may not get Derrick Rose back at all this season, just like the Sixers may not get Bynum back.
Yet even a shorthanded, struggling Chicago squad had more than enough to beat a desperate, exposed Philadelphia team. At this point, most other NBA teams can say the exact same thing.