When Markelle Fultz got the ball, it felt a little bit like the Flyers were on the power play — there was a chorus of “shoot!” from the Wells Fargo Center crowd. Two minutes into the game, despite the Bulls' Cameron Payne playing well off him, Fultz turned down a generous invitation at a wide-open three-pointer from the left corner and dribbled into traffic instead.
It wasn't what the crowd came to see, and it wasn't an encouraging sign for Fultz or the Sixers. To Fultz's credit, however, he didn't stop shooting.
The fans went wild when he made his first regular-season three-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Fultz pulls up from long distance and DRAINS IT.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 19, 2018
The cheers from the Philly faithful says it all. pic.twitter.com/OcXJIpHk9P
He finished with 12 points on 5 for 15 shooting after an extended fourth-quarter stint with the game out of Chicago's reach.
Fultz was the man in the spotlight Thursday night, but the Sixers' two dependable stars led the team to a home-opening win, 127-108. Here are some observations from the first victory of the season:
• Ben Simmons recorded his first of what will be many triple-doubles this season, posting 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and it almost doesn't feel worthy of more than a cursory note — that's how easy he makes it look. Outside of his reliable stat-sheet stuffing, Simmons' defense has been incredibly impressive. Brett Brown's preseason goal of Simmons making an All-Defensive team seems very attainable.
• Joel Embiid attempted only five free throws in the opener against the Celtics. That’s not going to happen very often this season. Embiid was his usual dominant self in the low post against the Bulls and rookie Wendell Carter Jr., posting 30 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. He made 12 of his 14 free throws.
• The Sixers' best five is still clearly last season's starting lineup. The 18-0 run that group went on early in the third quarter turned a surprisingly close game into the blowout most expected.
• Bobby Portis and Zach LaVine were on fire early for the Bulls. The two combined for 28 points on 11 for 12 shooting in the first quarter, as the Bulls posted 41 points in the period. The Sixers didn’t allow 40 or more points in a first quarter all of last season.
• Brown’s usage of Fultz against the Bulls was much closer to the plan he outlined at the beginning of the season, with the emphasis on getting Fultz as many minutes as possible at the point. Brown mostly either played Fultz when Simmons sat or put Simmons at the four when Fultz was in the game. Fultz ran the point late in the first and early in the second quarter for an intriguing lineup with shooters JJ Redick and Landry Shamet on the wings.
• Brown told reporters pregame he expects to be without new acquisitions Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala “for a while.” Chandler is out with a hamstring strain suffered in the Sixers’ first preseason game, while Muscala is sidelined with an ankle sprain.
Those absences have opened up a spot for the rookie Shamet, who played well against the Bulls after scoring just one point in 12 minutes in his NBA debut. Shamet had 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting from three-point range on Thursday.
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