Led by former University of New Mexico teammates Tony Snell and Cameron Bairstow, the Bulls triumphed over the 76ers, 79-68, Thursday night to remain perfect in Summer League play.
After jumping out to a comfortable first-quarter lead behind the scoring of the ever-present duo of second-year swingman Snell (18 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots) and first-round draft pick Doug McDermott (11 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots), as well as solid playmaking by Chicago native Lazeric Jones (11 points, four assists) at point guard, the Bulls saw what what was a 14-point second-quarter advantage dwindle, as Sixers' second round-draft pick Jordan McRae (game-high 25 points) didn't miss a shot in the first half in staking Philadelphia to a brief lead.
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With McDermott in foul trouble and the opposing defense focused on Snell, the Bulls' potent seasonal offense became inefficient and despite Sixers shot-blocking big man Nerlens Noel (14 points) in and out of the game with various maladies--the 2013 first-round draft pick, who missed last season due to a torn ACL, was coming off a one-game absence due to a sprained ankle, suffered a hamstring injury and was also reportedly physically ill--Philadelphia was able to pull within two points at the intermission, following a McRae triple to beat the halftime buzzer.
Turnovers and poor shooting continued to trouble the Bulls in the third quarter, but they eventually found a rhythm, as Snell took control of the offensive burden, college teammate and second-round pick Bairstow (18 points, eight rebounds) was effective with his rugged inside play and former Georgetown guard Austin Freeman (10 points) contributed timely perimeter shooting to help build a cushion, aided by the Sixers' own offensive struggles.
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While the Bulls were unable to significantly extend their lead in the final stanza, they maintained distance from the Sixers and it was apparent they would cruise to the win after an improbable three-pointer by Bairstow, in the midst of his best game in Las Vegas, down the stretch and McRae, who hadn't previously missed a shot all evening, air-balled a late attempt from long range.
Saturday's quarterfinal round of the Summer League tournament will be the next time the Bulls are in action, taking on Sacramento at 3 p.m. Central time at the Thomas and Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.