PHILADELPHIA – It looked as if the Bulls might have caught a break in their hope to pull off one of their biggest wins of the 2020-2021 season so far.
Ben Simmons, one of best players on the best team in the Eastern Conference, was out with an illness Friday evening, which certainly figured to benefit Billy Donovan’s squad.
The problem was, however, that great teams tend to find ways to overcome such losses and still succeed. On this night for Philadelphia, they only needed the help of one man to pull it off.
Center Joel Embiid enjoyed arguably the finest night of his NBA career against the Bulls on Friday at the Wells Fargo Center. He scored a career-high 50 points on 17-of-26 from the field and 15-of-17 from the free throw line to spark the Sixers in a 112-105 win that keeps them ahead of the Nets for first in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls were there step-by-step with Philadelphia for most of the night, with Zach LaVine leading the attack with 30 points on the evening. But he could only get them within two points down the stretch before Embiid put the game away.
His fadeaway jumper in the corner with 41 seconds to go put a cap on his night and sent the Bulls to their 16th loss of the season.
“He had one of them nights, man. It’s tough,” said LaVine of Embiid’s performance. “He made a lot of contested, fadeaway jumpers, and even when the double team came, he still got offensive rebounds. For a guy that size to be that skilled and to shoot that well, it’s not like you can do when he’s making those shots, man, to be honest with you.
“It’s tough. I thought we played really good defense at times on him, and he still made shots.”
Enough to keep the Bulls from pulling an upset on Friday night.