Spencer Hawes scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit the go-ahead jumper late in the fourth quarter to help the 76ers rally to beat the Chicago Bulls, 79-74, Friday night in Philadelphia and take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.
Hawes scored 10 clutch points in the fourth to give the eighth-seeded Sixers the surprising series lead. Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.
Already playing the rest of the series without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls got another scare in the third quarter when Joakim Noah left with a sprained left ankle. Noah, who scored 12 points, returned in the fourth quarter and mostly hobbled around the court.
With Rose out, the Sixers believed they were in perfect position to knock off the top-seeded Bulls and build a series lead on their home court.
The Sixers scored only 11 points in the third quarter and trailed by double digits early in the fourth before taking off against the battered Bulls.
Hawes keyed the surge and buried two free throws to make it 71-70 with 3:28 left.
After getting crushed on the boards all game, the Sixers scooped up a loose ball rebound and hit the open court, only to have Andre Iguodala miss a long and unnecessary 3-point attempt. Iguodala, bothered by right Achilles’ tendinitis, chucked the ball off the backboard to the dismay of a crowd that has seen him do that too many times to count.
Nursing a 1-point lead, Noah missed two free throws giving the Sixers new life.
Hawes hit a 20-footer for a 72-71 lead and Evan Turner made two free throws for a 3-point lead with 1:24 left.
John Lucas III of the Bulls buried a 3-pointer to make it a 1-point game and a send a shiver into a team that faded down the stretch after a 20-9 start.
All of that is behind them now. Jrue Holiday hit two free throws to seal the win to the delight of fans who packed the Wells Fargo Center.
Nuggets 99, Lakers 84 - Ty Lawson scored 25 points and host Denver raced to an early 24-point lead and held on to beat Los Angeles in Game 3 of their first-round series.
The Lakers still lead the series, 2-1.
JaVale McGee had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to even the best-of-seven series at two games each Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.
Playing with an energy and enthusiasm that had been missing in the playoffs, the Nuggets grabbed a 55-39 halftime lead by stifling Andrew Bynum down low and forcing Kobe Bryant to work harder for his baskets.
Although both Bynum and Bryant got it going after halftime and the Lakers cut their deficit to 4 points in the third quarter, the hole was too big to climb out of.
Bynum’s putback with 1:18 left in the third quarter not only pulled the Lakers to 68-64 but his inadvertent elbow on the play broke Al Harrington’s nose. He didn’t return, but the Nuggets went on a 12-5 run to regain their composure and control of the game.
Bryant finished with 22 points on 7-of-23 shooting after scoring 31 and 38 points in L.A.’s two wins at the Staples Center, and Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Kenneth Faried had a double-double for Denver, scoring 12 points and pulling down 15 rebounds as the Nuggets outrebounded the Lakers, 55-44.