PHILADELPHIA -- Maybe the 76ers are better than expected.
How else can you explain the excitement they are providing under rookie head coach Brett Brown?
The youthful and inexperienced group of fringe players have done the unthinkable: start the season with three straight wins.
Their latest victory was a 107-104 decision over the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
As a result, the Sixers have opened the season with three consecutive victories for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The Bulls, meanwhile, dropped to 1-2.
"We understand that what everyone has said about us," Brown said of the Sixers' being picked to finish last in the NBA. "Our guys have put in the day-to-day stuff, which has always been our message.
"We just want to knock out gray days. And I think that those days have added up."
As they did against the Heat on Wednesday, the Sixers overcame numerous miscues, battled back from a double-digit deficit, and thrived in transition late in the game. This time, they trailed by as many as 20 points in the second quarter.
Evan Turner made the second of two foul shots to give them a 105-104 lead with 1 minute, 28 seconds remaining. Then Spencer Hawes' jumper gave the Sixers a three-point cushion with 5.9 seconds to play.
While their heroics were big, Michael Carter-Williams was the star of the game. The Sixers rookie point guard outplayed former MVP Derrick Rose.
Carter-Williams finished with a game-high 26 points, 10 assists, 3 steals, and 4 turnovers. It was the second double-double of the season for the 11th overall pick out of Syracuse.
Rose, meanwhile, finished with 13 points on 4-for-14 shooting. He also had six assists, four rebounds, and eight turnovers.
"The thing that stands out a lot as we go through this short period -- it's only three games -- I think it's a point guard's league," Brown said, "and I think that Michael Carter-Williams is for real. It sure makes running a team and coaching a team a heck of a lot easier."
Carter-Williams has scored 62 points through the first three games. That's the highest total by a Sixer to start an NBA career since Allen Iverson scored 69 as a rookie in 1996-97. Meanwhile, Carter-Williams has 27 assists and is just the fifth player since the 1985-86 season to record 27 or more assists in his first three games.
On Saturday, Turner added 20 points while making 6 of 7 foul shots. Hawes finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, and 2 assists.
"He's doing a great job, rebounding most of all," Turner said of Hawes. "We need the presence. Right now, he's the white Dwight (Howard)."
Thaddeus Young (13) and Tony Wroten (11) were the Sixers' other double-figure scorers.
Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 22 points.
The Bulls opened the final quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 93-84 lead with 8:34 left.
Pushing the tempo, the Sixers got back into the game. Then a Carter-Williams putback gave them 100-99 lead with 3:29 left.
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