Jan 25, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers centerSpencer Hawes
(00) brings the ball up court during the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Game 3 was the momentum changer in the series for Philly. I lost my voice watching this game from the stands as the crowd in Philadelphia was absolutely turned up. The objective seemed simple: win tonight and take control of the series. Due to valiant efforts of Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer and guard Rip Hamilton, it wasn’t an easy task.
The Bulls were still a formidable opponent even without Derrick Rose. Boozer started the game on fire as he scored 10 points in the first quarter. That was more than his total for Game 2. Rip Hamilton was the Achilles heel for the Sixers as he scored 17 points and had repeated trips to the charity stripe. After a huge offensive display in Game 2, the Sixers looked to put on a show for the fans in attendance that night, myself included.
Sadly, a victory was not in the cards as the Sixers struggled to score the ball, finishing the game shooting 34 percent from the field. Philly also looked dreadful from downtown, shooting a lowly seven percent (1-of-14) from beyond-the-arc. But, someone was on the Sixers side because yet again the Bulls were about to lose a valuable part of their team to injury. Big man Joakim Noah, who is famous for his insane energy on the court, rolled his ankle on a layup attempt. In true Philadelphia manner, a parade of cheers rained down from the stands as Noah exited the game. After the injury it was a back and forth contest, but the Bulls held the lead most of the game.
With Chicago up double digits in the fourth, the 76ers looked down and out even with Noah succumbing to injury. As the game drew to a close, the intensity level erupted as the Sixers started attacking the basket. The double-digit lead dwindled quickly. In a one point game Jrue Holiday was locked up on defense, but dished the ball to big man Spencer Hawes who hit a step-back three — the only three-point shot of the game. Spencer Hawes finished with a career playoff high 21 points and nine rebounds.
The Bulls would not go away as John Lucas III hit deep ball to trim the Sixers lead to one. Evan Turner — the No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft — came up huge as grabbed three offensive boards off his missed layups before getting fouled. Turner would hit the free throws and give the Sixers the win by a final score of 79-74.