- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHILADELPHIA -- Let's take a quick look at how the Philadelphia 76ers pulled out a 79-74 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday night at Wells Fargo Arena. The Sixers lead the series, 2-1.
How it happened: The Bulls blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and could not find any offense down the stretch. Carlos Boozer had 18 points, but he missed several shots down the stretch. The Bulls simply had no answer offensively in the final 12 minutes and it killed them. Obviously, playing without Derrick Rose has changed the Bulls' offensive dynamic for the worse.
What it means: Any hope some Bulls' fans had for their team somehow making it to the NBA Finals should disappear after this one. The Bulls grinded all night and played defense with intensity, but they could not find any offense down the stretch. It is more evident than ever how much the Bulls relied late in games on Rose. Even if he wasn't making the shots, his presence opened up the rest of the floor for his teammates. The Bulls had nowhere to turn late in the game without him. Even if the Bulls somehow navigate their way past the Sixers in this series, there is little reason to believe they can advance much further with this kind of offense.
Even in defeat, it should be noted that Joakim Noah played hard in the second half, despite the fact he turned his ankle midway through the third quarter. Unless Noah, who seemed to be in extreme pain, magically recovers in time for Game 4, Thibodeau is going to be widely second-guessed for his decision to bring back Noah in the fourth quarter. Noah knocked down a jumper, but he could barely move up and down the floor. He was limping as he labored back and forth. It ended up being another lowlight in a night full of them for the Bulls late in the game.
Stat of the night: The Bulls were just 6-for-24 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Bold play of the game: With his team up by three and just more than 12 seconds left, Jrue Holiday stepped to the line to drill two free throws.
What's next: The Bulls are scheduled to practice Saturday as they get set for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.
9dMatt Walks, ESPN.com