May 1, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers small forward Andre Iguodala (9) drives to the basket against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of game two in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the United Center. The 76ers beat the Bulls 109-92. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Playoffs 2012: 76ers Use Huge Third Quarter to Even Series Against Bulls

So much for the Bulls riding this huge wave of emotion to a victory. That thought was squashed Tuesday night, as the 76ers used a huge third quarter to earn a decisive victory in game two of this opening round series, tying it at one game apiece in the process.

Just days removed from losing Derrick Rose to a torn ACL, the Bulls now find themselves in a series tied at 1-1 after getting blown out Tuesday night in game two of this opening round. What was a close game at halftime turned into a blowout victory for the visiting 76ers. Behind 11 third quarter points from Evan Turner, the 76ers turned an eight point hafltime deficit into a huge lead that they would never give up as they outscored the Bulls 36-14 in the period.

This was exactly the way the 76ers needed to come out and play after being completely shut down in game one to the tune of 39 percent shooting and just one of nine from three point range. That all changed tonight as the 76ers shot 59 percent from the floor and hit 5/12 from the arc, while also winning the battle on the boards 38 to 32.

Jrue Holiday paced the 76ers tonight, scoring an efficient 26 points while tallying a half dozen assists as well. Turner scored 19, including the aforementioned 11 during that decisive third quarter. Lou Williams also came off the bench for 20 points, which is a far cry from his miserable game one.

Chicago was paced by Joakim Noah, filling up the stat sheet with 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, while John Lucas III came off the bench to score 15 points.

Player of the game: Evan Turner

While Jrue Holiday was also a valid candidate for this, it’s going to Turner. He scored 19 points on 8 of 15 shooting, but also snagged seven rebounds and pitched in six assists. Shy of filling up the stat sheet, he keyed the Sixers run in the third quarter scoring 11 points.

Play of the game:

Its definitely that insane Andre Iguodala dunk, with Deng draped all over him. It was pretty much the nail in the coffin for the Bulls, as they never really recovered and Philadelphia continued to pour it on for the rest of the game.

Reaction to the game:

This was not what I expected at all. After losing their MVP in game one, I expected the Bulls to come out and win tonight, rallying around their fallen comrade. Instead, they laid a third quarter egg and dug a hole too deep to dig out of.

If the Bulls are going to win this series, they need to play better defense. Their offense isn’t going to get much better than what it was tonight, for the simple fact that they lack a dynamic playmaker to get them easy points with Rose sidelined. Offensively, they simply need to execute and play mistake free. They did that tonight, shooting 46 percent and only turning it over eight times. But they have to ratchet it up the defensive intensity. They can’t let the 76ers get that hot and expect to win, because it’s not going to happen. They don’t have the offensive weapons to keep up in a game like this, and it showed.

I’ll give props to the 76ers though. They caught fire tonight, and they just kept pouring it on. If they keep playing close to this good, they could win this series. And, at the very least, they’re going to be a headache for the Chicago Bulls.

With the 76ers winning tonight, this series just became a lot more interesting.

 

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Tags: Chicago Bulls NBA NBA Playoffs 2012 Philadelphia 76ers