PHILADELPHIA — Right around the time the Chicago Bulls started wanting to see Jrue Holiday shoot the ball for the Philadelphia 76ers, they wanted him to stop.
Holiday, the Sixers’ point guard, scattershot through a miserable first half Sunday (1 for 13) and didn’t get his second field goal Sunday afternoon until 7:27 remained in the first half. But Holiday stuck with it and, deep in the fourth quarter, boosted his team into position to win. With their 89-82 victory in Game 4 at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers have the East’s No. 1 seed — the one without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, it needs to be asterisked — on the brink of playoff elimination. The teams play Game 5 Tuesday in Chicago.
It wouldn’t quite capture it to refer to Holiday as a “closer” in Game 4; his big baskets came with time to spare, and Philadelphia spent the final two minutes again scoring via free throws. Still, on consecutive possession, consecutive high screens, with the game in the balance, Holiday got to the arc on the right wing and nailed 3-point shots.
The first, with 4:13 left, made it 77-73. After a Bulls turnover, he was out there again and the second pushed the Sixers’ lead to seven points at 3:34. That put them in position to manage the clock and the scoreboard, especially with Rose missing as a “closer” for the Bulls.
Chicago performed better offensively than in its 79-74 Game 3 loss — Rose replacement C.J. Watson found some rhythm late — but they still struggled to execute down the stretch. Carlos Boozer, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds, got snuffed by Elton Brand and Spencer Hawes in the lane, then the next time down, dribbled out of bounds at 84-80 and 48 seconds left.
For the second straight game, Philadelphia did its late-game scoring from the foul line. Holiday finished with 20 points after all. And in Noah’s absence, Hawes looked almost like an East All-Star big man, leading the Sixers with 22 on the heels of his 21-point effort in Game 3.