"I was exhausted trying to switch off on both guys, and I was still trying to find a way to create on the offensive end," Iguodala said.
It was a disappointing home opener for the Bulls, who played like a team that could use some star power, even if general manager John Paxson put to rest the Kobe Bryant trade rumors the previous day. Some fans made it clear they wouldn't mind seeing the Lakers' superstar in a Chicago uniform, chanting "Kobe! Kobe!" in the closing seconds.
"I'm not thinking about that," Chicago's Andres Nocioni said. "The people want to win. They can do whatever they want."
The Sixers appeared to be in control after a tip-in by Iguodala and breakaway dunk by Willie Green gave them a 71-61 lead heading into the fourth. Fans let the Bulls hear it, and the boos only got louder after layups by Iguodala and Rodney Carney made it 75-63.
Chicago wasn't finished.
A 3-pointer by Deng made it 81-75 midway through the quarter, and Nocioni pulled the Bulls within two with another 3-pointer with 5:15 remaining. With fans chanting "Let's go Bulls!" Nocioni missed a 3 that would have given Chicago a one-point lead, and the 76ers regrouped from there.
"I'm shooting terrible right now," said Nocioni, who was 6-for-15 overall and 2-for-8 on 3-pointers. "When I make 3s, it opens [things] for the big guys. ... We have time to recover, but we need to do it the right way."
Chicago could not recover after Samuel Dalembert dunked, and Miller converted a three-point play on a fast break with 3:55 remaining to make it 87-80.
"They made their run and we came through that luckily," Miller said. "We rebounded the ball well, and some guys made some tough shots at the end."
It wasn't a pretty win for the Sixers, who made just one of 11 3-pointers and were 35-for-83 overall, but a 55-36 rebounding enabled them to outscore the Bulls 25-5 on the break. Dalembert had 11 rebounds to go with 14 points, and Iguodala grabbed 10 while contributing six assists, three blocks and three steals.
"This is a confidence booster, something we can take home and build for tomorrow," Miller said.
Gordon led Chicago with 25 points. Second-year pro Tyrus Thomas had one of his best games, finishing with 21 points and a career-high 12 rebounds while blocking three shots. But it was a rough night for Deng and Kirk Hinrich.
Deng was 4-of-12 with 10 points and four rebounds, and Hinrich scored eight while shooting 3-for-12.
The Bulls find themselves in a familiar spot at 0-2. They're off to a slow start, just as they were in each of the previous three seasons before making the playoffs.
Whatever improvement they make is going to have to come from within, at least for now.
On Thursday, Paxson said the Bulls were never on the verge of a deal for Bryant and that talks were over for now.
He did not say they're over for good.
Paxson addressed the rumors because he was concerned they were becoming a distraction, and Deng even said the Kobe questions were getting annoying. Discussions could resume before the February trade deadline or maybe in the summer, but they're on the back burner for now.
But there are more immediate issues.
"We're not playing the Chicago Bulls' way," Nocioni said. "I don't know why. We practice really, really well. I think it's probably with the mind. We need to focus and try to play the way we play every year."
The Bulls hit just 7 of 24 3-pointers and were 33-for-86 from the field. ... Bulls F Joakim Noah, the ninth pick in the draft, missed his second game with a sprained right ankle. ... Dalembert got credit for two more blocks in Wednesday's season opener at Toronto following a league review, giving him six for that game.
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