Observations: Joel Embiid Explodes for Career-High 50 as 76ers Outgrind Bulls

Observations: Embiid explodes for 50 as 76ers outgrind Bulls originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bulls had a two-game winning streak snapped with a nail-biter of a 112-105 loss at the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers.

The 76ers played without Ben Simmons (illness) and Shake Milton (ankle). The Bulls remain without Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison.

Here are 14 observations:

1. For the third game in a row since returning from injury, Wendell Carter Jr. came out of the gates aggressive. He scored the Bulls' first 8 points on 4-for-4 shooting, and ended the first half with 15 (7-for-9 shooting) and a made 3, his first since Jan. 17.

The downside: He picked up three first-half fouls, all on Joel Embiid, including a Flagrant 1 in the first. He went scoreless in the second half, shooting 0-for-4.

2. As many have been in his MVP-caliber campaign, tonight was Embiid's night. He scored 25 points in the first half (9-for-14 FG, 7-for-8 FT) and collected 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 assist, 1 block and 1 steal. He passed the 30-point mark for the ninth time in ten games, and secured his 16th double-double, early in the third. He had 37 entering the fourth.

With the 76ers trailing by two, he checked into the game at the 8:31 mark of the fourth and scored 13 down the stretch, delivering the dagger with under a minute to play:

His final line: A career-high 50 points, 17 rebounds (6 offensive), 5 assists, 4 blocks and 2 steals. 17-for-26 shooting from the field and 15-for-17 from the charity stripe. Dominance for which the Bulls had no answer, even as they threw waves of bodies at him all night long.

3. The 76ers amassed a whopping 16 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance points.

4. The Bulls missed 15 of their first 17 3-point attempts and finished the night 7-for-32 (21.8 percent) from long range.

5. In spite of all that, the Bulls did well to hang around throughout, thanks in no small part to Philadelphia turnovers. The hosts committed 15 cough-ups, which the Bulls turned into 25 points.

6. The 76ers built a lead that climbed as high as nine points in the third quarter, but the Bulls answered to close that period trailing by two, and the first half 58-53. The 76ers then opened a 10-point lead midway through the third, but the Bulls entered the fourth trailing 85-79, and grabbed an 89-87 lead less than four minutes into the final frame. Nice shows of resilience.

7. Those punch-backs were keyed by -- you guessed it -- strong bench play. Ryan Arcidiacono, specifically, dusted off his kicks to log 18 minutes, scoring 10 points with 4 assists and a steal. He gave the Bulls that 89-87 lead with a hustle swipe on a lazy Philadelphia inbounds pass that he turned into an and-one layup. A typically gritty showing not far from his hometown of Langhorne, Pa.

8. Thad Young, too, stuffed the stat sheet once more with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. His activity on the offensive glass (he had 6 offensive rebounds on the night) was crucial, especially in the third quarter..

9. A torrid shooting stretch from Zach LaVine -- he entered play averaging 35.5 points per game on 56.8 percent from the field in his last six -- hit a snag. He shot 9-for-28 from the field in this one, 2-for-10 from 3-point range.

To his credit, though, he chipped his way to his 14th 30-point game of the season (15th straight with 20-plus) by getting to the foul line 10 times, making each try. He downhill drove his way to 14 points in the paint. And he contributed 5 assists, 2 steals and a block with some nice defensive efforts:

Nine of his points, and a critical turnover, came in the fourth as the Bulls tugged until the end. That he turned shooting woes into an impactful performance is noteworthy, but it wasn't enough.

10. Coby White left the game in the first quarter with a knee contusion, but returned for the start of the second half. He forged a really nice third quarter, scoring 7 points (3-for-4 FG) and drawing a charge on Embiid.

11. 76ers not named Embiid shot a combined 24-for-61 (39.3 percent) from the field, though Tobias Harris had 13 impactful second-half points to finish with 22, 12 rebounds and 7 assists.

12. Billy Donovan continued to push rotational buttons at the backup center spot, turning to Luke Kornet over Daniel Gafford in the first quarter, but starting the second with Gafford. Donovan said Kornet's floor-spacing has led to recent playing time, but after an 0-for-2 outing from behind the arc, he's now 1-for-13 on the season. Gafford picked up two blocks in the second quarter.

13. The Bulls scraped history by shooting 18-for-18 from the foul line:

14. Even in a season (mostly) without fans, the 76ers still have the best homecourt advantage in the league. They're now 13-2 after finishing 31-4 at the Wells Fargo Center. The Bulls move to 7-7 on the road and 12-16 overall.

Next up: Back home for the Sacramento Kings on the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow.

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