3 Observations as Embiid Duels Against DeRozan, Leading Sixers to Win Over Bulls

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers broke their two-game losing streak with a 119-108 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon at the United Center.

DeMar DeRozan and Joel Embiid dueled each other throughout the game, providing an entertaining contest with the Sixers coming out on top. DeRozan finished with 45 points on 18-of-30 shooting to go with nine rebounds and seven assists.

Embiid led the Sixers with 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists. It was his 20th consecutive game with 25 or more points, an impressive feat. He is now 10-0 in his career against the Bulls.

The Bulls were heavily shorthanded heading into the contest, with Zach LaVine (right midback spasms) headlining the group of players they were without. In addition to LaVine, the Bulls were without Lonzo Ball (left meniscus tear), Alex Caruso (right wrist fracture), Derrick Jones Jr. (right finger fracture), Coby White (right adductor strain) and Patrick Williams (left wrist ligament tear).

The Sixers were without defensive standout Matisse Thybulle (right shoulder soreness). He was in some discomfort during the second half of the loss to the Dallas Mavericks, and he also missed five games in January with a right shoulder sprain. Shake Milton remained out with a back contusion he sustained during the team's Jan. 3 win over the Houston Rockets.

Furkan Korkmaz made his return after missing three games with left knee soreness. He scored nine points and dished out two assists in 17 minutes off the bench.

Tobias Harris put together a good performance, finishing with an efficient 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He also added eight rebounds and five assists. Tyrese Maxey continued his recent stretch of good play, scoring 16 points (6-of-9 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range) while also dishing out six assists and recording three steals.

The win moved the Sixers to 32-21 on the season and put them just one game behind the Bulls, who are currently second in the Eastern Conference with a 33-21 record. The Sixers next take on the Phoenix Suns back home at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. Here are three observations from the team's win over the Bulls.

Maxey showcases his poise and growth in balanced first quarter

The Sixers' offense got off to a fast start against the Bulls, scoring 34 points while shooting 54.2 percent from the field in the first quarter. Embiid led the way to open up action, getting inside and making multiple shots over Nikola Vucevic on his way to scoring 10 of the team's first 12 points.

The team's supporting cast then proceeded to step up, led by a pair of triples from Maxey. He has become a much-improved three-point shooter this season both on catch-and-shoot situations and off the dribble, such as the play below.

Maxey finished the first quarter with eight points and four assists, effectively running the offense with poise and confidence. The most impressive thing from Maxey this season has been his improved three-point shooting ability, specifically off the dribble.

The Sixers as a team made five of their 10 attempts from beyond the arc in the first quarter. The Sixers' ball movement was crisp, with the team dishing out 10 assists and committing only two turnovers in the opening period.

Sixers struggle to stop DeRozan

With Thybulle out of the lineup, it was clear the Sixers would struggle to slow DeRozan down this afternoon. The team tried multiple different players on DeRozan, but nobody could really keep him from getting to his spots. He came into halftime with 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field. He accounted for half of Chicago's points heading into halftime.

DeRozan destroyed the Sixers mainly with his mid-range shooting, but he also did a good job mixing things up throughout the afternoon. He was able to get to the rim a variety of times, including the play below, in addition to being able to get rid of the ball whenever the Sixers sent over a double team.

The Bulls were heavily short-handed and DeRozan did a great job keeping them in the game until the end. It will always be entertaining watching DeRozan and Embiid battle each other, with this game proving to be no different.

Embiid, Harris close it out in the fourth quarter

DeRozan carried the Bulls throughout the game, but it was not enough to keep up with the Sixers through the fourth quarter. Embiid continued scoring at will, passing Wilt Chamberlain for 14th on the Sixers' all-time points list. He made a few jumpers, but also got inside and made Chicago pay for their poor defense.

Harris played a key role in closing the game out, scoring 11 of his points in the fourth quarter. He became more aggressive, getting to the rim on multiple occasions, including the and-one play shown below.

Harris and Embiid answered the bell for the Sixers throughout the fourth quarter whenever the Bulls tried making a run. Embiid got sandwiched between two Chicago players while diving for a loose ball towards the end of the game, but he was able to finish out the contest.

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