76ers

More Furkan Korkmaz magic helps Sixers beat Bulls

76ers

Everything Furkan Korkmaz touched in the last two games turned to gold. 

The Turkish wing scored 65 points and shot 25 of 34 this weekend. His 31 points Sunday night lifted the Sixers to a 118-111 win over the Bulls, which moves them to 24-2 at home, 33-21 overall.

Here are observations on the win: 

More Korkmaz magic 

Korkmaz picked up exactly where he left off Friday night.

He drained a three from the right wing on his first touch, then converted an and-one on his second after running a nice give-and-go with Ben Simmons. The 22-year-old kept rolling with an alley-oop to Simmons, followed by another jumper from long range that was open thanks to an excellent pump fake. 

Korkmaz, who ended the first quarter with 16 points on 6 for 7 shooting, appears to be in an incredible zone where every decision he makes is working just through the force of limitless self-confidence — he even crashed the offensive glass and tipped in a Simmons miss in the second quarter. 

He sunk a three and then drove in for a dunk in the fourth quarter, helping the Sixers pull away.

There will now be greater competition for bench wing minutes with the additions of Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III. Though it wouldn’t make sense to read into how Brett Brown divvied up the minutes Sunday given that Burks and Robinson haven’t even practiced yet, it would be surprising if Korkmaz’s role was significantly lessened in the near future with how well he’s done recently. 

 

Welcome back, Glenn Robinson III 

Robinson checked in late in the first period for his first minutes as a Sixer since 2015.

The 2017 Slam Dunk Content champion’s opening basket was … a dunk.

While Robinson will have to learn the Sixers’ schemes and terminology, he’s not a player who needs a ton of touches and is having a strong year as a three-point shooter (40 percent overall, 40.5 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts), which might ease the transition. He made a couple of smart, instinctive cuts into open space and finished with 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting in 12 minutes. 

Burks was available to play but did not debut, though one would presume he’ll have opportunities moving forward. Brown said pregame he was looking forward to the prospect of adding another capable live dribble and pick-and-roll player in Burks, who averaged a career-high 16.1 points per game and shot 37.5 percent from three-point range for the Warriors. 

Josh Richardson and Shake Milton are the two other Sixers besides Burks who fit that live dribble guard description. Milton’s ability to run the pick-and-roll with Simmons is a big part of why he’s started the past eight games.


Richardson ramping up 

Milton maintained his dual role as starter/backup guard, while Richardson played 19 minutes off the bench and had three points and two assists.

Richardson is clearly emerging as a vocal leader both on off the floor. Late in the third quarter, he called his teammates around him for an impromptu huddle during a stoppage before a free throw. 

A team spokesperson said before the game that Richardson’s minutes will be gradually ramped up as he comes back from the left hamstring strain that sidelined him for six games.

Embiid uses his muscle 

Joel Embiid had a major strength advantage over Luke Kornet, which he exploited early. He scored the Sixers’ first points on a deep post catch and short jump hook, and he had eight of the team’s opening 12. 

However, Embiid misfired on a handful of open jumpers in the first half — not the only time that’s happened since his return from a torn ligament in the ring finger of his left hand.

 

The All-Star big man had 28 points (8 of 17 shooting) and 12 rebounds after missing the second half of Friday’s win over the Grizzlies with neck tightness. He now has at least one offensive rebound in 50 consecutive regular-season games played. 

Poor defense for long stretches  

Despite four steals by Simmons and four blocks by Embiid, the Sixers’ defensive effort wasn’t good for long stretches, prompting a few boos from the Wells Fargo Center crowd

That said, Zach LaVine hit several long, tightly contested threes that no defense could have done much to stop on his way to 32 points.  

Simmons only shot 6 for 13, but he was especially valuable on a night when many of his teammates were a level or two below their best on defense. He also made 7 of 10 foul shots and had a triple-double with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, though he did turn it over seven times.



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