Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/2/12
CHICAGO -- Richard Hamilton was carried off the floor and into the locker room by a pair of Chicago teammates with 3:15 left in the third quarter on Saturday. He was diagnosed with a left foot sprain and felt well enough to check back in with 20.8 seconds remaining. Hamilton hit three free throws in the final moments to seal the Bulls' 93-88 victory over Philadelphia at the United Center. "He (coach Tom Thibodeau) asked me and I said, 'Yeah, put me back in the game,'" Hamilton said. "He didn't want to put me back in at first and I was like, 'As long as my right arm is good, I'm good.'" The Bulls entered the fourth quarter with a three-point advantage and never lost the lead. A steal by Joakim Noah led to a fast-break dunk from Taj Gibson, giving the Bulls their largest lead at 76-68 with 7:40 remaining. Philadelphia closed within 81-79 with 2:57 left when Jrue Holiday hit a 3-pointer. Chicago answered with a Luol Deng jumper and a Gibson dunk to make it 85-79 with 1:44 on the clock. The 76ers could have gotten possession trailing by three after Hamilton missed a free throw with 14.7 seconds left. But Noah kept the rebound alive, tipped it out to Hamilton and he nailed both foul shots to clinch the final result. "I was sort of in the trick bag. I didn't have any timeouts left and I kept the small lineup on the floor, because we were going to have to make a play," Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. "I should have had Thad (Young) and Evan (Turner) pinching on Noah. That was my mistake." Deng hit 10-of-16 shots and led the Bulls with 25 points, Hamilton had 15, while Noah finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. "I just shot the ball great tonight," Deng said. "A few of those shots, the clock was going down. I had no choice but to shoot it." Holiday led Philadelphia with 23 points and Young added 22. The Sixers, playing the second leg of back-to-back games, were outrebounded 50-37. "They're a very physical team and crash the boards," Young said. "It takes its toll, especially when you play back to back against two teams like we have." Hamilton was injured when he made a jump pass near the sideline and fell to the floor clutching his left leg. The injury was termed a left foot sprain and Hamilton said he'll have an MRI exam on Sunday. "As soon as I came off my feet, that's when I felt something in the bottom of my foot, felt something pop," Hamilton said. "They always say the worst injuries are when nobody's around and you didn't fall down on nobody's foot or anything like that. So it was just one of those things. When it happened, it just scared me." The Sixers got off to a quick start, jumping to an early 13-6 lead. The Bulls turned things around with a 23-8 run to build an eight-point lead early in the second quarter. The visitors pulled back into a 41-41 tie by halftime. Turner and Noah were whistled for double technical fouls in the final minute of the first half. The two started jawing not long after Turner hit a tough fadeaway over the taller Noah. NOTES: This was the first meeting between the Bulls and 76ers since last season's first-round playoff series. Philadelphia became the fifth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed in the first round, although the Bulls lost All-Star guard Derrick Rose to a left knee injury in the final minute of Game 1 and Noah missed the final three contests with a sprained ankle. ... The Sixers have just five players who played in the clinching Game 6 against the Bulls: Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen. The Bulls have seven players back, including the still-recovering Rose. ... Philadelphia guard Nick Young sat out Saturday with a hyperextended big toe on his left foot.
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