PHILADELPHIA – Forget tanking.
Rookie Michael Carter-Williams and the Philadelphia 76ers can’t lose.
Pegged in the preseason to be one of the league’s worst teams, the Sixers continued their stunning start to the season, beating the Chicago Bulls 107-104 on Saturday night behind 26 points and 10 assists from Carter-Williams.
Evan Turner had 20 points and Spencer Hawes added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the supposedly rebuilding Sixers (3-0), who have already defeated the Washington Wizards and two-time defending champion Miami Heat to rise to first place in the Atlantic Division.
“We understand what everybody has said and written about us,” first-year coach Brett Brown said. “Our guys have put in the day-to-day stuff, which has always been our message. I’m lucky I’ve found a group that enjoys each other’s company and they enjoy playing together.”
Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Luol Deng had 20 points. Still dealing with neck soreness, Derrick Rose finished with 13 points and six assists for Chicago, shooting 4-for-14 from the field and committing eight turnovers.
“I would blame tonight on me,” said Rose, who wore tape around his neck for the second straight game. “Turnovers, missed shots, miscommunication — I just couldn’t get in my groove.”
After trailing by as many as 18 points earlier in the second half, the Sixers took a 100-99 lead with 3:29 left after Carter-Williams picked up a loose ball and calmly laid it in. It was the Sixers’ first time in front since they led 11-10 midway through the first quarter.
Carter-Williams, Philadelphia’s prized first-round draft pick out of Syracuse, said he relished the chance to play against Rose, just one night after going toe-to-toe with Washington’s John Wall.
He was 10-for-22 from the field and had three steals.
Trail Blazers 115, Spurs 105
In Portland, Nicolas Batum hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the Blazers won their 13th straight home opener.
Damian Lillard had 25 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points for Portland, which led by as many as 13 points.
Pacers 89, Cavaliers 74
In Indianapolis, Paul George and Lance Stephenson combined for 43 points as Indiana remained unbeaten.
Pelicans 105, Bobcats 84
In New Orleans, Anthony Davis had 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists to lead the hosts to their first win since changing their nickname to Pelicans.
New Orleans set a franchise record with 18 blocked shots, including a career-high six by Davis. Jason Smith tied a career high with five blocks.
Rockets 104, Jazz 93
In Salt Lake City, Chandler Parsons poured in 24 points and James Harden had a 23-point performance to help Houston rally from a 19-point deficit to remain undefeated and keep the Jazz winless.
Mavericks 111, Grizzlies 99
In Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points to lead the Mavericks’ balanced offense.
Warriors 98, Kings 87
In Oakland, Klay Thompson scored 27 points, Stephen Curry had five 3-pointers among his 22 points, and Golden State limited Sacramento to 34.5 percent shooting from the field
Raptors 97, Bucks 90
In Milwaukee, Rudy Gay had 18 points and 15 rebounds, DeMar DeRozen added 17 points, and Toronto spoiled the Bucks’ home opener.