Philadelphia, PA – At least for one night, Andre Iguodala is in the city of Philadelphia's good graces.
"I don't know how you could write a better script," said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. "(Andre) struggled all year at the foul line, stepped up and made two free throws to win a playoff series to get to the second round for the first time."
Iguodala drained two free throws with 2.2 seconds to play, lifting the Sixers past the top-seeded Chicago Bulls, 79-78, and into the Eastern Conference semifinals with a Game 6 victory.
Chicago, buoyed by a staggering 56-33 rebounding edge, rallied from a 12-point deficit to seize the lead late, but Omer Asik missed a pair of free throws to set up Iguodala's dash to the rim and subsequent free throws. The polarizing figure galvanized for his late-game play rung the bell this time, making both shots and then watching as C.J. Watson's desperation halfcourt heave hit off the back rim.
Iguodala scored a game-best 20 points to go along with seven assists, while Jrue Holiday joined Louis Williams in double figures with 14 points. The Sixers became the fifth eighth-seed to knock off a top seed and now will face Boston in the next round.
Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton each posted 19 points, while Deng grabbed 17 rebounds as well. Taj Gibson scored 14 points off the bench for the Bulls, who couldn't find enough offense without the services of last season's MVP Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL in a Game 1 injury that altered the series' landscape. Joakim Noah dressed but didn't play again, missing his third consecutive game with an ankle sprain.
"I think we had more than enough to win with," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau about his short-handed unit.
Chicago took a 67-63 advantage in the fourth on two Gibson free throws, and led 70-65 before Evan Turner's runner and Iguodala's teardrop three-pointer over Asik tied the game at 70-70. Back and forth they went, with Williams -- 2-of-19 on three-pointers in the series to that point -- draining a go-ahead triple for a 73-72 edge with just over four minutes to go.
Deng responded with a layup before a Bulls possession that seemed to last an eternity and underscored the rebounding domination from start to finish. The Bulls grabbed four offensive rebounds on one series, the same Philadelphia compiled for the game to that point, and Gibson eventually made two free throws for a 76-73 lead with 2:03 to go.
The Sixers got back within 76-75 on Spencer Hawes' layup in traffic with 43.2 seconds remaining, but Chicago returned the favor on a high pick-and-roll that resulted in a slip and slam from Asik off a bounce pass from Watson.
Thaddeus Young's acrobatic bucket in the lane again cut the deficit to one, setting up the finish.
The Sixers missed their first three shots, but quickly found their range from long distance, draining their first three treys. Holiday scored eight of the team's first 13 points, and Iguodala's triple knotted the contest at 13-13 in the opening minutes. The Sixers started to find seams in the Bulls defense, making over 55 percent of their shots in the opening period with Williams' last-second jumper giving them a 24-22 edge.
Chicago's lead grew to as many as four in the second, but the 76ers started to get out on the break and raced off 12 straight points capped by Williams' three-pointer and a free throw for a 43-34 lead just under the five-minute mark of the half. The Sixers led by as many as nine in the period and took a 48-40 lead into the locker room.
Philadelphia came out of the locker room strong with Turner and Hawes connecting on consecutive jumpers for a 53-41 advantage. The lead was still a dozen at 59-47 after an Iguodala slam in transition off a Hamilton turnover.
After another Bulls timeout, the visitors turned up the aggression and quickly re-asserted themselves back into the game with a 16-4 stretch to close the quarter. The quarter's last six points belonged to the Bulls with Hamilton finishing off a Gibson miss then draining a mid-range jumper to square the game at 63-63.
Philadelphia won its first playoff series since 2003 and became the second No. 8 seed in as many years to win a series, following Memphis from last season...Turner scored 10 points with five rebounds in the win...Asik scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds...The Sixers made 39.7 percent of their shots, but grabbed only five offensive rebounds. Their first offensive rebound came with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter...Chicago held a 29-5 edge in second-chance points.