Banged-up Bulls try to even series with Sixers

If it weren't for bad luck, the Chicago Bulls would have none at all.

Another lopsided quarter on Friday has the upstart Philadelphia 76ers in control of their first-round playoff series with the Bulls. And another injury has the NBA's No. 1 overall seed facing a 3-1 hole if it can't solve the Sixers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals set for Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love.

Already without reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose, who is done for the season after tearing a knee ligament in the series opener, the Bulls lost starting center Joakim Noah in Game 3 to an ankle injury.

Noah's counterpart on the Sixers, Spencer Hawes, scored 21 points in the pivotal contest as Philadelphia finished with a big run Friday night to beat Chicago, 79-74.

The Sixers closed with a 23-5 burst to take a 2-1 lead in the set. They got 17 points from Jrue Holiday, 16 from Evan Turner and 14 off the bench from Lou Williams, but Hawes and Turner were the difference makers.

Hawes, the 76ers' 7-foot-1 center, gave Philadelphia the lead for good with a long jumper just inside the three-point line on the left side with 2:11 remaining.

"We had some tremendous performances tonight," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I'm really proud of Spencer."

Then, with the Sixers clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, Turner came up with what Collins called it the play of the year for the 76ers.

Chicago's John Lucas had just deposited a three to draw the Bulls within one when Turner took things into his own hands.

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft wanted the ball and Collins wanted him to have it. He drove deep into the paint but Luol Deng was there to send his shot back. Turner got the offensive rebound and tried to gather himself, lost it, got in back again and went up into the body of the massive Omer Asik, virtually forcing the referee to blow the whistle.

With 20.1 ticks left on the clock, Turner calmly stepped to the line and buried a pair of free throws.

"I honestly believe that the single biggest play of the year for us was Evan Turner," Collins said. "The play he made under the basket ... Evan just fought, fought, fought, got fouled and made those two free throws. That was the singular biggest play for us, of the season."

When Deng missed a long three at the other end -- the Sixers had done it and taken a stunning 2-1 lead over the NBA's best regular season team.

To make matters even worse for Chicago Noah rolled his left ankle badly in the third quarter when he stepped on the foot of Sixers forward Andre Iguodala while driving in the lane on a break.

Noah remained in to shoot free throws and stayed on the court for another minute or so before going to the locker room for the first time. He came back in the fourth to give it a go but was hobbling badly.

Noah has been officially listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 4 but is unlikely to play and will be listed as day-to-day going forward.

"He's gutsy man," Chicago forward Carlos Boozer said of Noah. "I mean, he sprained it real good. He's a warrior man. Tough injury. I don't know how he'll be ready for Sunday."

"We can't feel sorry ourselves," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You need guys who have that great will to win, no matter what the circumstances."

Boozer had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Chicago in Game 3 while Richard Hamilton added 17 points and Noah and John Lucas both scored 12.

But Deng had just five points and the Bulls have now lost two in a row to the Eastern Conference's No. 8 seed

"It was a tough loss, but I think this group in here remains confident," said Deng. "We're playing short-handed, but we have a team that's going to fight and scrap for everything. We have to clean up a few things before Game 4."

These two rivals have met in postseason twice before, in the East semifinals in back-to-back years (1990 and '91) during the Michael Jordan-era with Chicago taking both sets 4-1.

Game 5 is set for Tuesday back in the Windy City.