76ers advance, beat Bulls 79-78

Associated Press Modified: May 11, 2012 at 3:31 am •  Published: May 11, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Omer Asik placed his hands on his hips in disbelief as an improbable 76ers' celebration erupted around him.

Derrick Rose was lost for the series in Game 1. Joakim Noah hit the bench for good in Game 4.

Now all the Chicago Bulls are headed home after a tough tumble from the top of the East to postseason punch line.

Andre Iguodala made the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left and Philadelphia rallied for a 79-78 victory over the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in Game 6 on Thursday night, advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003.

"I really thought we'd take it back to Chicago," forward Taj Gibson said.

Instead, the Sixers will move on and face Boston, which beat Atlanta in six games, in the conference semifinals.

Asik missed two free throws with 7 seconds left that would have given the Bulls a three-point lead. Iguodala grabbed the second miss, sprinted the length of the court, and was fouled by Asik on the driving layup.

The Sixers put their season in the hands of one of the worst fourth-quarter free-throw shooters in the NBA.

Coach Doug Collins was hunched over with his hands clasped while Iguodala was at the line.

He made both — and 20,362 fans went absolutely wild.

Iguodala made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter in this series after shooting 45 percent (23 of 51) from the line in the period this season.

Iguodala changed his approach at the line this series. He started thinking what it would be like to teach his son how to shoot free throws.

Dads don't miss.

"I was like, 'Son, this is how you shoot free throws,'" Iguodala said.

Asik stood motionless on the free-throw line when the stunning upset was completed. Philadelphia cheerleaders stormed the court and danced around him before he trudged off the court.

The Sixers are the fifth No. 8 seed to win a first-round series against a No. 1 seed. Memphis eliminated San Antonio last season, while Golden State (2007), New York (1999) and Denver (1994) also pulled off the rare feat.

In his second season, Collins had already led the Sixers to their first winning season in seven years. Now, it's on to the second round for the first time since Allen Iverson was an All-Star.

Iguodala hopped on the scorer's table and played to the crowd as the catchy 76ers' anthem blared in the arena.

His teammates joined Iguodala and danced along as confetti fluttered around them.

"Number one, Philadelphia. Here they come, team of the year."

Team of the first round, for sure.

"I don't know how we won this game," Collins said.

The Sixers were smiling and mobbed each other as they dashed to the locker room to keep the party going.



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