With seven seconds to play Thursday night, the Chicago Bulls had a one-point advantage over their hosts the Philadelphia 76ers with the score 78-77, when Bulls center Omer Asik was fouled by Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes; giving him two shots at the line, with a chance to put his team on top by three points and possibly send the series back to Chicago for a seventh game. The big man would miss both shots the charity stripe, Sixers forward Andre Iguodala grabbed the defensive rebound and then was fouled by Asik, sending him to the line for two shots. Iguodala made both free throws and the eighth seeded Philadelphia 76ers defeated the number one seed Chicago by a final score of 79-78 and sent the Bulls home for the summer having won the match-up by a 4-2 margin.
Chicago was expected to have little trouble defeating the Sixers when the series began, however that would be before the squad lost All-Star point guard Derrick Rose in game one for the year after he tore his ACL and starting center Joakim Noah would be sidelined by a sprained left ankle. After winning the first game of the match-up, the Bulls would lose three straight before topping Philadelphia at the United Center on Tuesday night 77-69. Although the opportunities were there to extend the series, they failed to capitalize on the situation and will have a lot more time off before next season than they were planning for.
Iguodala scored a game high 20 points while Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each added 14 for the Sixers. Luol Deng racked up a double-double with 19 points while Richard Hamilton also had 19 in the contest, but it would not be enough to keep the Bulls in the Playoffs. It was the first Post Season victory for the Sixers since the 2003 campaign.
Although Chicago dominated the first few minutes of the opening period, the home team would knot up the score at 13-13 as Iguodala buried a 25-foot trey with 5:24 remaining. The two opponents would remain neck and neck for the balance of the period with the Sixers taking a 24-22 advantage as Williams knocked down an outside jumper at the buzzer.
The contest remained tight until Philadelphia forward Thaddeus Young broke a tie with 5:52 left in the second, by driving the lane putting the ball through the cylinder and giving his team the edge at 36-34. The Sixers would hold the lead for the rest of the quarter and would be on top 48-40 as they entered their locker room as the contest reached the half.
Philadelphia coasted along for most of the third in charge but the Bulls made a run down the stretch. Hamilton hit a shot five feet from the hoop with 27 seconds to play and the score would be deadlocked at the end of the period. The two teams exchanged the lead throughout the final period; with neither team going ahead by more than four points. Asik slammed the ball through the hole with 25 seconds remaining giving Chicago a 78-75 advantage, little realizing those would be the final points scored by his team this season.
Philadelphia will be in Boston on Saturday as they take on the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.