PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in his return to the lineup, and Seth Curry scored 22 points and hit a crucial jumper late to lead the Philadelphia 76ers over the Chicago Bulls 103-98 on Wednesday night.
Georges Niang added 18 points for the short-handed 76ers, who have won four in a row.
In addition to Ben Simmons (personal reasons), who has missed all eight games, Philadelphia was without starters Tobias Harris (health and safety protocols) and Danny Green (hamstring).
DeMar DeRozan tied a season high with 37 points for Chicago and grabbed 10 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 27 for the Bulls, who nearly came back from a double-digit deficit in the second half for the second straight game.
Chicago, which trailed by 15 in the second half, erased its 12-point deficit to start the fourth quarter when DeRozan drained a 16-footer to tie it at 87 with 6:40 to play, as Philadelphia missed nine of 10 shots to begin the final period.
But the Bulls went cold from that point, going 0 for 5 with a pair of turnovers until Alex Caruso’s dunk with 2:54 left trimmed Philadelphia’s lead to 98-91.
Embiid helped the Sixers build that advantage, scoring on a putback that made it 94-89 with five minutes left. Although he missed the chance to convert a three-point play, Embiid made a pair from the stripe the next time down the court and the 76ers were comfortably up 98-89 on Tyrese Maxey’s layup with 4:11 left.
The Bulls, who came back from a 19-point second-half margin in Monday’s 128-114 win at Boston, didn’t go away, though. Lonzo Ball’s 3 with a minute left and DeRozan’s baseline jumper pulled the Bulls to 100-98 with 29.9 seconds left. After a timeout, Curry hit a tough elbow jumper with 10.7 seconds left to put the 76ers ahead 102-98.
It looked as though the Bulls would have a chance to get closer when Embiid appeared to foul DeRozan, but officials reversed the foul call after replay.
Embiid returned to the lineup after sitting out a victory over the Trail Blazers for rest. It was the first missed game of the season for the four-time All-Star, who played just 51 games last season due to injuries and rest on his way to finishing runner-up in the MVP race.
Chicago trailed by 18 in the first half when Embiid hit a 16-foot pull-up jumper with 1:48 left before the break. DeRozan had one of the highlights of the first half with a one-handed dunk with 2:49 remaining.