76ers

5 Sixers summer league observations: Furkan Korkmaz erupts for 40 points in loss

5 Sixers summer league observations: Furkan Korkmaz erupts for 40 points in loss

Friday night marked the start of summer league for the Sixers, but Furkan Korkmaz looked ready for 2018-19 opening night.

However, he was the only one to thoroughly impress during the team's MGM Resorts NBA Summer League opener in Las Vegas, as the Sixers fell to the Celtics, 95-89, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Korkmaz went off for a game-high 40 points with Sixers head coach Brett Brown watching in attendance. Still, it wasn't enough as the Sixers suffered costly defensive breakdowns, proving incapable of holding a four-point lead with a little over three minutes left in regulation.

The Celtics closed the game on a 14-4 run to hand the Sixers the loss. The Sixers are back it Saturday when they face the Lakers at 11:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Let's get into five observations from Friday's action:

1. Korkmaz put on a show and certainly looked the part of an NBA player.

The 2016 draft's 26th overall pick went 8 for 14 from three-point range and lived at the charity stripe, going 12 of 15. The 6-foot 7 shooting guard, who also grabbed six rebounds, made a variety of deep and difficult trifectas. 

He drained a step-back three to give the Sixers a 78-75 lead with 5:48 left and sank a similar one at 3:53 to push the advantage to 84-80.

Korkmaz had a craftiness to his game and drew fouls with numerous head fakes. He looked strong on dribble handoffs and going off the bounce, as well.

The native of Turkey turns 21 years old later this month. This performance had to feel good after a Lisfranc injury to his left foot last season limited him to just 24 total games (15 with the Sixers and nine in the G League).

2. Jonah Bolden was active and bouncy, attacking missed shots for athletic rebounds while running the floor well.

The Sixers' 2017 second-round pick totaled six points, six rebounds and a block in 23 minutes. He shot 2 of 6 from the free throw line and 0 for 2 from deep after shooting poorly in those areas during 29 EuroLeague games. The 6-foot-10, 220-pound power forward shot 31.9 percent from three and 51.2 percent from the line last season.

"Coming from UCLA going to my first year professionally was a big difference," Bolden said last month at the Sixers' practice facility. "Coming from the American style of play to the European style was also a big difference — the physicality, the speed of the game kind of slowed down. IQ level was a lot higher. There was an adjustment phase. Once I got through that, it was kind of a smooth ride."

Bolden wants to play for the Sixers in 2018-19. He'll have more summer league time to prove himself and try to convince management the time is now.

3. Zhaire Smith showed flashes but had a mostly quiet night.

The 16th overall pick in the draft last month was a minus-21 in 29 minutes while posting seven points and two assists. The 6-foot-5 guard attempted one three-pointer in which he missed but did not commit a turnover.

During the second quarter, he exhibited his athletic ability when fellow 2018 pick Landry Shamet found him on a cut to the basket for a layup.

Less than a minute later, Smith took a steal the other way and found Shamet in the corner for a three-pointer.

4. Speaking of Shamet, who was taken 26th overall by the Sixers, he did not play in the second half after leaving with a right ankle sprain.

He played some point guard off the bench and hit a pair of three-pointers in 12 minutes before exiting and not returning.

In his final season at Wichita State, the 6-foot-4 guard hit 84 treys and shot it at a 44.2 percent clip from bonus territory. Shamet is hoping he won't be sidelined for long so he can display that skill to the Sixers.

“I was recruited as a two, which people forget about, so I honestly feel confident playing either guard spot,” Shamet said a day after the draft. “And even being a point guard, I don’t have to have the ball in my hands. I understand Ben [Simmons] is a guy that’s good at creating space, having the ball, playmaking. Getting to play with him, he’s going to make my life a lot easier finding me and being a willing passer, making plays. That’s exciting for sure. But I have confidence I can play off the ball, I honestly feel that’s a strength of mine.”

5. Take away Korkmaz's impressive 8-for-14 showing from deep and the Sixers shot 5 for 23 (21.7 percent) behind the arc. They'll need to offer more help to Korkmaz, who single-handedly kept the Sixers in the game and nearly won it for them.

Saint Joseph's product Isaiah Miles was the team's only other double-figure scorer, checking in with 11 points and eight rebounds.

More on the Sixers

Sixers’ situation becomes bleaker with injury to Joel Embiid, loss to Cavaliers

Sixers’ situation becomes bleaker with injury to Joel Embiid, loss to Cavaliers

Updated: 10:16 p.m. 

The Sixers haven’t won a road game since Jan. 20, both of their All-Stars are injured and, if the playoffs started tonight, they would not have home court advantage. In short, things could be going much better.

Joel Embiid sustained a left shoulder sprain Wednesday night and the Sixers dropped to 36-23 with a 108-94 loss to the Cavaliers. They play the Knicks tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center.

Here are observations on the loss: 

First Simmons, now Embiid 

Embiid grimaced after a collision off the ball with Ante Zizic late in the first quarter, feeling at the area around his left shoulder. He took and missed both free throws after the foul call, seemingly in significant pain, then left the game and went back to the locker room. 

Early in the second quarter, Embiid briefly returned to the bench before again heading to the locker room. After a short conversation with head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson, he appeared to have a discussion in the tunnel with GM Elton Brand, who said before the season that he’d “be more a part of it with the players in a partnership for their care.”

The team announced at halftime that Embiid was out for the game. 

Embiid’s injury is bad news for the Sixers regardless of the circumstances, but it’s obviously even worse in the context of Ben Simmons being sidelined with a nerve impingement in his lower back. 

It was certainly possible to picture an Embiid-centric team thriving without Simmons, especially given that the Sixers have the third-easiest remaining schedule in the league. If both their All-Stars are out for an extended period of time, though, it would be a massive hit.

There are a heap of fair criticisms one can have about the Sixers this season — Brand’s decision to spend as much money as he did on Horford and Harris, other complementary pieces not doing enough, abysmal efforts on the road, you name it. However, having your second All-Star get hurt two days after he scored a career-high 49 points and the day after announcing the diagnosis of your other All-Star’s injury is just very bad luck. 

After the game, Embiid told The Inquirer's Keith Pompey that he will have an MRI tomorrow. 

Secondary options not close to good enough 

With Embiid out, the Sixers needed Harris and Horford to carry a bigger load.

Neither player was up for the task. 

Harris, whose status changed from doubtful to questionable to available for Monday’s game with a right knee contusion, did not look explosive and shot 4 of 13.

Horford made a few nice passes, had three steals and hit two threes, but he wasn’t nearly as good as the Sixers needed him to be, with 10 points in 34 minutes. 

It wasn’t a strong night for Josh Richardson (nine points on 4 of 12 shooting), either.

Norvel Pelle was out for a second straight game with an upper respiratory illness, which led the Sixers to play Kyle O’Quinn as their backup center. In his first action during a close game since Jan. 20, Quinn had six points, four blocks and two rebounds. 

O’Quinn reportedly wanted to be waived, but perhaps Embiid’s injury will shift his thinking. Players must be waived by March 1 in order to retain playoff eligibility in the event they’re picked up by another team that season. We looked at available guards that might be interest the Sixers today (see story).

Milton starts again 

Shake Milton was the Sixers’ starting point guard, as he had been Monday vs. the Hawks.

The 23-year-old didn’t start the game well, allowing Darius Garland to hit his first three shots. Though the defensive drop-off from Simmons to Milton is substantial, Milton was a bright spot offensively, picking the right spots to attack and knocking down 4 of 6 threes. 

He finished with 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. If you’d like a positive in a situation that currently looks rather bleak, Milton is a good choice. 

Richardson and Alec Burks (13 points on 6 of 12 shooting) split up backup ball handling duties. 

A terrible 1st half 

The Cavs scored 30 of the game’s first 36 points in the paint. The Sixers missed a handful of open looks inside early, including a very easy fast break Horford layup attempt off a long pass from Milton. They made just 11 of their first 36 field goals and 2 of their first 12 threes. 

No Sixer played especially well in the first half, and yet the team only trailed by 11 points. With all due respect to the 17-win Cavs, who did beat the Heat on Monday, the deficit would surely have been worse if the Sixers were playing a decent opponent. 

Embiid’s injury played a part in these particular early road struggles, but a team that is 27-2 at home should simply not be 9-21 on the road.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid exits game vs. Cavs with shoulder injury

Sixers injury update: Joel Embiid exits game vs. Cavs with shoulder injury

Updated: 10:05 p.m.

Already down Ben Simmons, the last thing the Sixers needed was an injury to their other All-Star.

Joel Embiid suffered a left shoulder sprain and did not return vs. the Cavs, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters. He went back to the locker room with a left shoulder injury after he was fouled by Ante Zizic late in the first quarter in Cleveland. 

Embiid and the Cavs’ big man got tangled up and Embiid came up grabbing his shoulder. He then went on to miss both free throws and grimaced the entire time. Furkan Korkmaz purposefully committed a foul to get Embiid back to the locker room. Embiid briefly came back to the bench, but was then summoned by head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson back to the locker room where it appeared GM Elton Brand was waiting.

After the game, Embiid was wearing a sling on the injured shoulder in the locker room, according to Winters. He'll reportedly have an MRI Thursday, per Keith Pompey of the Inquirer.

The Sixers were already without Simmons, who was diagnosed with nerve impingement in his lower back. He’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, per a team spokesperson.

The team was also without Norvel Pelle who is dealing with an upper respiratory illness. That left Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn as the only players that can play as true NBA fives. Horford struggled while O'Quinn was solid in his first real action since Jan. 17.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers