CHICAGO — That momentum the Sixers had at the All-Star break must’ve had a hard time making the trip to the Windy City, but they got it when they needed it most.
Ben Simmons scored the last of his career-high 32 points from the line with 5.6 seconds left and the Sixers pulled out a 116-115 win in both teams’ return from the hiatus.
The Bulls had a pair of looks at a game-winner in the final seconds but the ball bounced away and left the Sixers with their sixth straight victory.
All-Star Joel Embiid added 30 points and 13 rebounds — his ninth straight double-double — to help the Sixers end their four-game road losing streak.
Simmons had 11 assists and seven rebounds to come close to his seventh triple-double and Dario Saric chipped in 13 to help the Sixers take the season series from the Bulls.
JJ Redick made a pair of free throws with 8.0 seconds left to cut the lead to a point, then Simmons drew a foul to put the Sixers ahead for good.
Up 93-91 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Sixers watched Bobby Portis score 10 points during a 12-5 run that gave the hosts a lead they wouldn’t lose until the final seconds. Portis, who missed the first of the Bulls’ final chances, finished with a career-best 38 points and Zach LaVine added 23.
• Chicago left the door open by missing four straight shots in the final minutes, but an Embiid turnover with about a minute to play kept the Sixers from tying the game at 112-112 or taking the lead. LaVine nailed a three-pointer at the other end to make it 115-110 and keep the Sixers scrambling.
• The Sixers jumped out to a 25-7 lead midway through the first quarter after making their first five three-point tries — including two by Embiid — but trailed, 69-67, at the break. Chicago’s Portis led the charge for the hosts by scoring 14, a dozen of which came on triples, in the second period.
• One more triple-double will put Simmons in some rare company. Hall of Fame enshrinee Magic Johnson was the last NBA rookie to record seven during the 1979-80 season.
• Justin Anderson, who left a Feb. 12 win over New York with a sprained right ankle and missed the Sixers’ finale before the break, did not play Thursday night.
• Chicago benched center Robin Lopez and guard Justin Holiday on Thursday as the franchise joins several others in a race for the best odds in the NBA draft lottery.
Sixers coach Brett Brown remembers days like that and said there’s more to the story.
“It didn’t beat me down, but you had to coach yourself a little bit,” Brown said of recent seasons. “We went overboard just with the relational side and the development side. Anything that fell under those two categories, we went overboard trying to help guys, help them get better, help them stay in the league.”
• The Sixers return home Saturday hoping to extend an 11-game winning streak at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers tip off against the Orlando Magic on Saturday at 5 p.m.