76ers top Bulls, grab series lead

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PHILADELPHIA — Spencer Hawes scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit the go-ahead jumper late in the fourth quarter to help the Philadelphia 76ers rally to beat the Chicago Bulls 79-74 on Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

Chicago's Luol Deng tries to make a pass against Philadelphia. The 76ers took a 2-1 series lead with the five-point win Friday.  MEL EVANS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MEL EVANS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Chicago's Luol Deng tries to make a pass against Philadelphia. The 76ers took a 2-1 series lead with the five-point win Friday.

Hawes scored 10 clutch points in the fourth to give the eighth-seeded Sixers the surprising series lead.

Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.

Already playing the rest of the series without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls got another scare in the third quarter when Joakim Noah left with a sprained left ankle. Noah, who scored 12 points, returned in the fourth quarter and mostly hobbled around the court.

With Rose out, the Sixers believed they were in perfect position to knock off the top-seeded Bulls and build a series lead on their home court.

76ERS: Julius Erving is returning to the team as a strategic adviser. His deal runs through 2015 and he will be available to the franchise on an as-needed basis.

KNICKS: Forward Amare Stoudemire had a message for his teammates after watching the team’s latest postseason failure.

“I was like, ‘Don’t hit nothing,’ ” Stoudemire said.

A 3-0 deficit against the Miami Heat and an NBA-record, 13-game postseason losing streak may be a strange time for humor, but there was something else to brighten the Knicks’ mood Friday.

Stoudemire worked out with his lacerated left hand wrapped and could be in uniform Sunday when the Knicks try to avoid the sweep.

“I think he’s going to play,” interim coach Mike Woodson said. “I think he wants to play and again, if doctors say he’s ready to play and they release him, then I’m going to play him.”

Stoudemire was more cautious, sticking with the Knicks’ original update that he was doubtful. He said Wednesday there was a “great chance” he could play, but said the hand was sore and definitely not 100 percent.


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