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Miller's 25 leads Sixers past Bulls

Nov 3, 2007 - 4:52 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia 76ers are trying to prove that the end of last season was no fluke.

Andre Miller scored 25 points and Andre Iguodala added 22 to lead the 76ers to a 96-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

Philadelphia ended last season by winning 18 of its last 29 games and made a surprising run at the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite that success, many experts picked the Sixers to finish near the bottom of the conference this season.

"We are staying with a lot of things that we did at the end of last year and we are getting some wins out of it," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "Our young guys just continue to play and play, we are not going to give up whether we are up or down."

Miller, who was one of the keys to last season's late surge, connected on 10-of-18 from the floor and grabbed six rebounds to pace the Sixers.

"All of us play within our game," Miller said about his team's effort. "We made some good plays in transition that allowed us to get easy baskets on offense."

The Bulls, on the other hand, were expected to make a jump this season and contend for the top spot in the East, but came out flat.

Philadelphia came out with a purpose, turning up the defensive intensity and crashing the boards. The Sixers held the Bulls to just 38 percent (33-of-86) shooting and won the rebounding battle, 55-36.

"This was the second game in a row where we had trouble getting back on defense," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Frankly, no one cared too much about it either."

Miller put on a shooting clinic in the first quarter, knocking down 5-of-6 shots in the period - none from closer than 13 feet - and connecting on two free-throw attempts as the Sixers jumped out to a 28-20 lead at the end of the first.

"This is one of those games that you want to build on," Miller said. "Everyone contributed tonight, and we all played well defensively. That allowed us to get some easier buckets on the offensive end."

Offseason acquisition Reggie Evans made his presence felt early, pulling down five of his nine rebounds in the opening quarter.

The Bulls closed to within 42-41 at the half on the strength of a 7-1 run to end the second quarter.

Chicago took its first lead since a 6-4 advantage in the first quarter when Tyrus Thomas opened the third with a layup, but that was the last lead it would enjoy.

"We have to start coming out and putting 48 minutes together," Thomas said. "We didn't protect our home court and now we are 0-2."

Miller added seven points in the third and Willie Green poured in 11 of his 13 in the period to put Philadelphia up by 10 points entering the final quarter.

"We just kept trying to slow them down," Miller said. "This was the best defense we could play against a team like that. We kept forcing them to shoot from the outside, then we rebounded the ball. That allowed us easy baskets."

The Bulls would pull as close as two when Andres Nocioni hit a 3-pointer with 5:16 left in the game, but the Sixers responded with a 14-5 run to put the contest away.

Iguodala scored the final eight points of the game and had 11 of his 22 in the fourth quarter for Philadelphia.

"I wanted the ball down the stretch," Iguodala said. "Those last few minutes I could see what was open. The guys created a lot of chances for me."

Ben Gordon led the way with 25 points for Chicago, but missed a pair of shots and committed two costly turnovers in the last three minutes of the game. Thomas added 21 points and 12 rebounds.

"We can't keep trying to fight back to tie and win games," Gordon said. "That is not a remedy for success, we have to figure some things out before the next game."

Luol Deng, who has had his name bandied about in trade rumors all summer and throughout the preseason, was flat on Friday - scoring just 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

"I felt like I didn't do a good job tonight," Deng said. "My shot wasn't falling and we just kept making mistakes and giving the ball right back to them."

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