76ers

Summer League: Markelle Fultz, Sixers can't finish off 4th-quarter rally

Summer League: Markelle Fultz, Sixers can't finish off 4th-quarter rally

SALT LAKE CITY — For a second consecutive game, the Sixers could not get a final winning play after battling down to wire.

The Sixers on Wednesday fell to the Jazz, 100-94, after cutting a 24-point third-quarter deficit to a point in the game's final minute. Utah never let the Sixers take the lead down the stretch, and sealed the win with six free throws in the final 17.7 seconds.

Markelle Fultz scored 23 points to lead the Sixers. He was one of four players to finish in double figures. The Sixers shot just 41.3 percent (31 of 75) from the field while allowing Utah to shoot 50 percent (11 of 22) from three-point range.

Turning point
Utah spent the third quarter burying the Sixers under a barrage of baskets from Donovan Mitchell and Dante Exum. Mitchell opened the quarter by draining a three-pointer and then stealing the ball to feed Exum for a dunk. Then the duo combined for three baskets over three possessions — with Mitchell and Exum contributing a three-pointer apiece — to push Utah's lead to 63-43.

The Sixers did not go away. Fultz scored 13 points and dished out three assists in the fourth quarter. It helped whittle a double-digit deficit to a one-point game in the final minute. Fultz cut it to a basket on a three-pointer and then Brandon Austin made two free throws with 52.3 seconds left to trim Utah's lead to 92-91.

Mitchell came to the rescue with a fadeaway jumper from the elbow with 29.2 seconds left. Alex Poythress drilled a three-pointer to cut it to one again with 11.8 seconds remaining, but the Sixers never drew closer.

Fultz watch
Facing intense defensive pressure from the Jazz all night, Fultz strung together a brilliant fourth quarter to get the Sixers back in the game late. He put up good numbers on offense, finishing with 23 points on 9 of 16 shooting. Fultz made four three-pointers and totaled five assists.

This will likely be the last chance for Sixers fans to see the top pick in action in Utah this week. The Sixers plan to rest Fultz for at least one game this week before heading to Las Vegas for summer league action there.

Team leaders
Besides Fultz, the Sixers got a boost from quite a few other players to key their late rally. Poythress added 17 points and collected eight rebounds. Brandon Austin chipped in 16 points. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 12 points while shooting 3 of 4 from long distance.

Exum led Utah with 26 points and 10 assists. Mitchell added 15 points and three steals. The Jazz also got 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench from Eric Griffin.

Key stat
Capitalizing on offensive rebounding paved the way for the Sixers to rally. The Sixers collected 15 offensive boards and finished with a 36-12 advantage in second-chance points.

Top Sixers plays
With the Sixers battling double-digit deficits for much of the night, there were a dearth of highlights for the team over 40 minutes.

Poythress provided one of the top plays in the second quarter when he snagged the ball after Exum blocked Luwawu-Cabarrot's runner and put it back for a layup. Then, on the following possession, Fultz drained his first three-pointer over Exum. The two baskets cut Utah's lead to 37-33 with 3:40 left before halftime.

Fultz went back to work in the fourth quarter. He drilled a three-pointer and banked in a floating jumper on back-to-back possessions and followed with a pull-up jumper a few seconds later to trim the Jazz lead to 84-74 with 6:37 remaining.

Furkan Korkmaz, the 26th overall pick by the Sixers last year, made his debut after signing with the team. Korkmaz was in the starting lineup and finished the night with three points on 0 for 5 shooting in addition to three assists and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

What's next?
The Sixers wrap up summer league play in Utah against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.

Sixers at Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Sixers at Cavaliers: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

The Sixers (7-5) will look to get back into the win column in Cleveland when they take on the Cavaliers (4-7) this afternoon.

Here are the essentials for today’s game:

When: 3 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+ 
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

And here are three storylines to watch:

Time to get right

There’s no such thing as a good loss, but man, the Sixers’ losses have been particularly brutal. On Friday night, they held a nine-point lead with 7:20 to go but gave up a 12-2 run and eventually lost in overtime to the Thunder.

The Sixers have glaring issues — especially in their starting five — but Brett Brown feels like he knows what they are.

“If you're sick and you don't know why, that's a problem,” Brown said. “We are in a tough spot right now, but it's a long year. I think that it doesn't take much for me to understand where we have to get better. And it's really that simple. If you're scratching your head, sort of confused, then I think we got some problems and that's not what I'm doing. I think the guys understand the areas that matter most that can best impact changing the way things are going and get back on the winning side.”

We'll see.

Taking care of business

This Cavs team isn’t as bad as perhaps we all thought coming into this season. They start two extremely young guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but they’re still flanked by veteran bigs Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.

Cleveland also gave the Sixers all they could handle earlier this week — especially veteran guard Jordan Clarkson (20 points). The Sixers were able to sneak out of the Wells Fargo Center with a 98-97 win. Then again, when is the last time this team played a game that wasn’t close?

While the Cavs are maybe better than anticipated, this is a team the Sixers should be able to get well against. On Tuesday, they held Cleveland scoreless for over three minutes to close out the game. They need to bring that for 48 minutes and get right with a win over a team they’re clearly more talented than. 

Sorting out the bench

Furkan Korkmaz was scorching hot for a six-game stretch. He shot 50.9 percent from three and averaged 13.8 points in mostly bench minutes. In his last three games, he’s just 4 of 16 from distance. The issue with Korkmaz is if he’s not hitting shots, he doesn’t bring much else to the table. You saw Oklahoma City pick on him in overtime after Tobias Harris fouled out.

Korkmaz has been getting the most minutes off Brown’s bench recently. Should he be? Rookie Matisse Thybulle got off to a roaring start, but has looked overmatched offensively. With that said, he’s just so special defensively, Brown should deal with the growing pains on the other end. In games Thybulle has played at least 12 minutes, the Sixers are 6-1.

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There are positive signs, but still glaring issues with Sixers

There are positive signs, but still glaring issues with Sixers

After dropping their second straight game in overtime Friday night in Oklahoma City (see observations), the Sixers at times sounded like a team looking for answers.

More of that is likely struggling to answer questions coming off another brutal loss. They have an idea why they’ve lost five of their last seven after starting their season 5-0. A large part of it is a group with a bunch of new faces that are still figuring each other out. On Friday, fouls were an issue as they allowed the Thunder to attempt 41 free throws.

For a team that has championship aspirations and got off to such a hot start, this isn’t where they expected to be 12 games into the season.

“Obviously we're frustrated,” Tobias Harris said to reporters postgame. “7-5 is not where we want to be. It's early in the season and right now we're going to progress and get better and figure out ways that we can help each other and help our team and go from there. This game is over. Tomorrow, we'll watch film on it, we'll find out which ways that we can better ourselves and be ready for the next game. [We’re] 7-5 right now but ... we'll just go into the next game and be ready to get that win and go from there.”

There are reasons for optimism — with Harris being arguably the biggest.

After missing 23 straight threes and looking lost recently, Harris splashed his first trey of the game and looked like a totally different player. He finished with 21 points on 8 of 16 from the field and 3 of 4 from three. He was much more aggressive and decisive than he’d been in the previous two games.

Josh Richardson, returning to his native Oklahoma, has continued to show signs of improvement. He poured in 28 points, his highest total as a Sixer. More importantly, he’s looked much more comfortable in the offense as he figures out his role.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons both had their moments. Embiid had a game-high 31 points and Simmons broke out after a quiet first half to play the entire second half.

One of the team’s biggest issues is figuring out the pairing of Embiid and Al Horford. The reality is Horford has never played with a center like Embiid who demands the ball and attention offensively. It’s been an obvious adjustment for Horford, who shot just 5 of 12 Friday and has done most of his damage with Embiid off the floor.

The uncomfortable offensive fit for the entire starting five has been a big reason the Sixers have been involved in so many close games. A familiar theme emerged Friday, as the Sixers held a nine-point advantage with 7:20 to go in the game. Instead of hitting the gas and putting the Thunder away, they gave up a 12-2 run and saw their lead evaporate.

These are talented players that have won in different places. They’re still learning how to win together.

“I was just telling Al about that,” Harris said, “and really it's just I think a matter of right now we are yet to be up like eight points and push that to 15 and really push what we're doing and move forward with that, and really imposing our will and dominating. And that's something that we have to get to and that's something I think we're still learning — how we can do that and how we can make those type of runs. That's something we definitely got to get better at.”

The good news is you see the talent and recognize some of the issues.

And Brett Brown has 70 games to figure it out.

“If you're sick and you don't know why, that's a problem,” Brown said. “We are in a tough spot right now, but it's a long year. I think that it doesn't take much for me to understand where we have to get better. And it's really that simple. If you're scratching your head, sort of confused, then I think we got some problems and that's not what I'm doing. I think the guys understand the areas that matter most that can best impact changing the way things are going and get back on the winning side.”

They know the problems, now they just have to answer the questions.

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