Wednesday , Apr , 05 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Bulls down 76ers, move into final playoff spot in East

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Andres Nocioni and Ben Gordon each scored
21 points, as the Chicago Bulls leapfrogged Philadelphia in the race for the
final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after a 99-92 victory over the
Sixers at the Wachovia Center.

Nocioni also pulled down 13 rebounds while Tyson Chandler grabbed 15 boards to
go along with nine points for the red-hot Bulls, who have won four straight
and six of their last seven contests.

The Bulls also moved ahead of Philadelphia by half a game for the eighth
playoff spot. Chicago sits 1 1/2 games behind Indiana for the seventh playoff
position.

Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng each tallied 14 points and Chris Duhon added 13 in
the victory.

“We’re just happy to have a win,” said Chicago head coach Scott Skiles. “We
know we have a game against them (Sixers) on Saturday and now we’re the hunted
and they’re going to be coming after us.”

Allen Iverson led all scorers with 26 points and dished out seven assists
while Chris Webber posted a double-double with 23 points in 10 rebounds for
Philadelphia, which dropped its second straight contest. The Sixers also fell
to 2-6 in their last eight home games.

The two clubs will meet again in Chicago on Saturday.

Chicago dominated the first quarter before seeing its lead dwindle during the
second stanza.

The 76ers came all the way back to within two points thanks to a 19-4 surge.
Philadelphia scored the final eight points to cut the deficit to 41-39. Matt
Barnes converted a layup, Andre Iguodala drained a pair of free throws and
slammed home a Webber miss and Webber’s layup capped the stretch with 2:55
remaining.

The Bulls responded with seven consecutive points as Duhon’s two short jumpers
bookended Gordon’s mid-range jumper. Webber then drained two jumpers to make
the score 48-43 at the half.

The second portion of the third quarter looked exactly like the opening
stanza. Philadelphia was listless on offense while Chicago penetrated into the
lane with purpose. The Bulls used an 11-2 burst over the quarter’s final five
minutes to take a 71-60 edge.

Chandler and Nocioni each tallied four points with the center’s two free
throws opening the 11-point lead at the 1:02 mark.

The Bulls’ lead reached 83-69 on Chandler’s tip-in with 6:39 remaining, but
the Sixers later pulled within 89-84 after reeling off seven straight points.
Samuel Dalembert’s three-point play and Webber’s layup with 2:12 left capped
the burst.

Iverson drained two free throws to make it a one-possession game, 89-86, with
1:05 to play, but Nocioni converted a layup on the other end.

Webber then missed a jumper and Duhon drained a pair of free throws to seal
the victory.

The Bulls used suffocating defense — a staple of Skiles-coached teams —
and efficient ball movement to open a substantial edge in the first period.
Chicago ended the period on an 18-10 scoring stretch to seize a 32-18
advantage.

Nocioni’s layup made the score 20-10 with 5:06 left then just over two minutes
later Deng converted a running jumper and Gordon drained a tough floating
half-hook in the lane.

Gordon’s jumper with 1:05 to play capped the first-quarter scoring. The Bulls’
sixth man scored 10 points in the period as Chicago shot 60.9 percent from the
floor. The Sixers made just 5-of-19 field goal attempts.

“We walked out of the gate looking like we were the ones in the mud and
they were a lot quicker than us, faster than us, and kept us on our
heels,” Philadelphia head coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Game Notes

The Bulls improved to 17-21 on the road…The Sixers fell to 21-17 at
home…Both teams shot 45.8 percent from the floor…Chicago won the battle on
the boards, 47-40.

CHI PHI