Published December 13, 2012
| Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA – Joakim Noah netted 21 points and helped key a pivotal late run that lifted the Chicago Bulls to a 96-89 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Luol Deng posted 19 points and 12 rebounds for Chicago, which outscored the Sixers by a 17-9 margin over the final five minutes to notch their fourth win in five games. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson also scored in double figures, contributing 16 and 14 points, respectively, to the triumph.
Philadelphia was dealt its second defeat in its last three outings despite a 26-point, 9-assist effort from Jrue Holiday and 16 points and eight boards out of Evan Turner.
Thaddeus Young added 13 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers, who were done in by poor shooting from both long distance and the free-throw line. Philadelphia went just 2-of-14 from 3-point range and made a mere five foul shots in 11 attempts on the evening.
In a nip-and-tuck affair in which neither team was ahead by more than seven points until the final stages, Philadelphia grabbed an 80-79 edge when Holiday knocked down a pull-up jumper with 5:32 to go.
Chicago countered with an 11-3 spurt over the next four-plus minutes, however, to move in front to stay.
Jimmy Butler followed Holiday's basket with a 3-pointer that put the Bulls back on top, and Deng hit two free throws after a Sixers turnover before Marguis Teague drove the lane and scored for an 86-80 Chicago advantage with 3:32 remaining.
Jason Richardson accounted for only Philadelphia's second triple of the game on the other end to cut the deficit to three points, but Noah found a cutting Deng for a reverse layup before burying a clutch outside jumper -- which also came off a 76ers giveaway -- to stake Chicago to a 90-83 lead with 1:12 left.
The Bulls then sealed the win by making all six of their foul shots in the last minute, capping a night in which they shot a pinpoint 92.3 percent (24- of-26) from the charity stripe.
"They outplayed us towards the end of the game," Young said. "They willed themselves to victory."
Chicago trailed, 24-17, late in the first quarter, but put together a 17-4 run to build a six-point differential nearing the midway mark of the second.
"The first quarter is huge in this league," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think we showed that today."
Philadelphia countered with an 8-2 spurt highlighted by a pair of Holiday buckets, however, to forge a 36-36 tie with 4:20 left in the half, then later regained the lead at 40-38 when Turner scored in transition nearly two minutes afterward.
Holiday netted the last of his 16 first-half points with 32.6 seconds remaining before intermission to send the Sixers into the locker room with a 44-41 lead.
A 9-2 third-quarter burst put Philadelphia up by a 60-53 count with five minutes to go in the period, but the Bulls answered with a 13-4 flurry to go back ahead. Taj Gibson scored the final four points of the surge, including a pair of free throws that snapped a 64-64 deadlock near the end of the frame.
Chicago led, 69-66, entering the fourth quarter, with the spread never greater than three points until the Bulls took over down the stretch.
Robinson started in place of Kirk Hinrich, who did not play for Chicago after injuring his knee in Tuesday's 94-89 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers ... Including three setbacks during last season's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Bulls had lost in seven of their last nine visits to the Wells Fargo Center ... Chicago is now 40-4 since the start of last season when holding an opponent under 90 points, including a 9-2 mark this year ... Philadelphia finished with a 44-32 advantage in points in the paint ... Spencer Hawes ended with 10 points for the Sixers, who lost for the first time in seven tests this year in which he scored in double figures ... Philadelphia fell to 1-10 when trailing or tied after three quarters.