Tyson Chandler only knows one way to play, which is typically a good thing for an energy-starved team like the Bulls.
But Friday night at the United Center, Chandler's all-out style sent him chasing a loose ball that he never could control, crashing into the courtside seats across from the Bulls' bench and then beyond.
By the time Chandler gingerly rose to his feet several minutes later, his grimace and slow limp to the locker room told all. His sore back had been bruised and his night would be a short 14-minute affair.
The Bulls fell much less dramatically, losing to Philadelphia 106-85 before the first sellout crowd of the season, 22,378.
Several thousand of those cheered the 76ers' Allen Iverson with gusto and the quick guard didn't disappoint, finishing with 33 points, 11 assists and eight steals. Several of his moves drew gasps from the crowd.
Chandler's crash-and-burn with 7 minutes 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter did as well.
The team's most consistent player and emotional leader thus far this season will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging test Saturday and stay behind when the Bulls travel to face Tim Floyd and New Orleans, which beat the Lakers on Friday night.
The Bulls, an impressive 27-14 at home last season, are 1-3 at the United Center. Their average margin of defeat at home is 26 points.
"This is the NBA and we need to learn how to compete," Jalen Rose said. "No disrespect to the teams we're playing, but we're better than that. I attribute that to not knowing what it takes to make the necessary sacrifice and be a team."
The loss spoiled the debut of rookie point guard Kirk Hinrich, who shot 1-for-10 but showed his moxie in the open court and an ability to push the ball upcourt.
Before the game, coach Bill Cartwright laughed off a question about whether he ever might pair Hinrich in the backcourt with Jamal Crawford, who scored 19 points and had five assists.
"Every time," Cartwright said, shaking his head, clearly tired of the subject after a point guard controversy last season between Crawford and Jay Williams. "They could play together. Are they going to? Probably not a lot."
But Cartwright paired the two in the backcourt to begin the fourth quarter with the Bulls down 81-63. Hinrich finished with five points, six assists and three steals in 25 minutes.
Glenn Robinson added 21 points and 11 rebounds for Philadelphia, which grabbed 19 offensive rebounds and kept numerous other possessions alive with tipped balls. The 76ers finished with 24 second-chance points.
Eddy Curry hit his first four shots and finished with 21 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bulls. But he hit only 5-of-12 free throws.
The Bulls thought they had established some momentum with Wednesday night's road victory in Orlando only to go out and fall flat again Friday. That's why Chandler said he would play Monday no matter what.
"I don't know if I hit the person [in the front row] or the chair," Chandler said of his scary fall. "But there was impact and that triggered the pain."
The final score brought more.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times