memphis grizzlies

Ben Simmons spectacular as Sixers beat Grizzlies in NBA2K simulation despite head-scratching substitutions

Ben Simmons spectacular as Sixers beat Grizzlies in NBA2K simulation despite head-scratching substitutions

At one point in the first quarter of Monday night’s NBA2K simulation on NBC Sports Philadelphia between the Sixers and Grizzlies, Ben Simmons had eight points and Memphis had none.

The Sixers started the game on a 17-0 run and Simmons was excellent, finishing with 29 points, seven rebounds and six assists in a 103-89 road win.

Here are a few observations on the virtual victory:

Spectacular Simmons

Simmons set the tone by breaking free for two dunks off steals on presumptive Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. He stymied Morant all game, pressuring the ball, restricting his passing lanes and contesting his mid-range attempts.

Offensively, Simmons mixed nifty, soft finishes around the rim with ferocious dunks. The Australian didn’t attempt a three but was more willing to shoot jumpers than usual, trying a few and making one from the right elbow in the first quarter.

Harris helps turn the tide 

The 2K version of Harris is surprisingly good at drawing fouls. That’s not a strength for Harris in real life, but virtual Harris’ ability to draw contact in the second quarter was key after the Sixers had squandered that 17-0 lead and allowed Memphis to go in front.

Though Harris’ total of 31 points was boosted a bit by some scoring when the game was out of hand, he helped the Sixers restore control. When the Sixers have blown double-digit leads on the road this season, the rest of the game hasn’t typically transpired like Monday’s.

Head-scratching substitutions 

The Sixers paired Kyle O’Quinn and Joel Embiid for extended stretches in both halves, which was a bizarre decision. 

Perhaps the rationale was to minimize the time Embiid and Al Horford played together and to experiment with a new lineup, but there are much better ways to stagger Embiid and Horford’s minutes than using O’Quinn as a power forward in a close game. Memphis went on a 20-5 run during the first Embiid-O’Quinn stretch.

With 9:21 left in the game and the Sixers up 25 points, Simmons checked out ... but not for the night. Raul Neto had held down the fort just fine — the Grizzlies trailed by 24 with about three minutes to go — but Simmons was on the floor for the end of what was essentially a blowout win. 

Even if the plan was to give Simmons a shot at passing his career-high of 34 points, reinserting a player in his second game back from an injury under those circumstances was, to put it mildly, puzzling. 

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Furkan Korkmaz tells Sixers teammates to 'talk that s***' after career night

Furkan Korkmaz tells Sixers teammates to 'talk that s***' after career night

The Sixers needed something, anything, to fix their brutal skid, and in the end it came from an unlikely source: Furkan Korkmaz.

The third-year wing had an unreal Friday night against the Grizzlies, going off for 34 points (including seven threes!) in a much-needed comfortable win at home.

But Korkmaz's best performances may have come after the game.

The 22-year-old began by telling NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters that he was just "made it rain" out there during his postgame interview, a hilarious way to phrase his huge night.

And then, after ringing the bell in the locker room, Korkmaz unleashed a new catchphrase that Sixers fans will probably get tattooed on their bodies if the team can turn this season around.

Asked to break the team down, Korkmaz inspired his teammates once more: "Talk that s*** on three!"

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🗣 talk that sh*t on three

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Two seasons ago, Korkmaz scored just 23 points in 80 minutes and felt like an afterthought.

On Friday night, after dropping 34 points and bringing the Wells Fargo Center to its collective feet, Korkmaz had plenty to smile - and swear - about.

The kid is just fun.

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Sixers take out frustrations of ugly road trip on Grizzlies in blowout win at home

Sixers take out frustrations of ugly road trip on Grizzlies in blowout win at home

BOX SCORE

If only the Sixers could find a way to not play any road games.

They took the frustrations of an ugly four-game road trip out on the young Grizzlies with a 119-107 win at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night.

The only negative on the night is that Joel Embiid was forced to leave the game with neck stiffness.

The win improves them to 32-21 and their NBA-best home record is now 23-2. They’ll host the Bulls on Sunday (6 p.m.)

Here are observations from the win:

Simmons dominates

After a down game in Milwaukee where he only took six shots from the floor, Ben Simmons was back to his recent form. He continues to attack the rim as Brett Brown continues to use him in creative ways. We saw a ton of Simmons playing at the elbow in sort of a point forward role and being used in dribble handoffs and pick-and-rolls.

He finished with 22 points (9 of 14), 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals. He also continues to hit his free throws, going 4 of 5.

Despite Simmons’ defensive prowess, Brown has generally elected to keep his point guard off the other team’s top offensive player because of his workload. After losing four straight, perhaps Brown didn’t see a point in messing around and had Simmons on Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant from the jump. All Simmons did was hold Morant to 1 of 6 from the field with three turnovers in the first half.

In a game the Sixers needed to get the bad taste out of their mouth, Simmons delivered in a big way.

Active Jo

Embiid had one of the worst offensive performances of his career against the Bucks, going 6 of 26 from the floor. It seemed like the difficulty of playing with a splint on his left hand affected the rest of his game.

On the first possession of the game, he tipped a Morant pass to Simmons who finished on the other end. It seemed like a preamble to the way he played the rest of the half. He was extremely active, recording 10 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block in just 16 minutes. He also took two charges.

Embiid was not out to start the second half and missed the remainder of the game with neck stiffness. We’ll have more details as they become available.

Credit Tobias Harris for stepping up in Embiid’s absence. He scored 11 of his 21 points in the third quarter. Harris was shooting just 40.1 over his last 10 games coming in. He was 9 of 17 Friday, including 3 of 4 from three.

Quite the Furkan game

There’s just something about these Wells Fargo Center rims for Furkan Korkmaz. Korkmaz’s shooting splits are a microcosm of the team. At home, the Turkish wing was hitting 43.2 from deep at home coming in. That number drops to 33.1 on the road.

The 22-year-old was cooking from the start in this one, pouring in 20 first-half points. He was 4 of 5 from three and 8 of 9 overall. The Sixers were kind of playing rope-a-dope with the Grizzlies in the first half. Korkmaz hit some big shots to get them separation and build a 14-point halftime lead.

Korkmaz is never one to lack confidence, but the audacity of this one ...

He set new career highs with 34 points and seven made threes. He led another strong shooting night from deep for the Sixers as a team (14 of 25). 

Now that’s defense

The biggest disappointment during the Sixers’ brutal four-game road trip was their defense. They’ve consistently been in the top-five in the NBA in terms of defensive rating and that’s supposed to be the identity of the team.

Back at home, they got back to that, smothering the young Grizzlies throughout. It’s a tough matchup for Memphis. The Grizzlies two talented young players in Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. had to deal with Simmons and Al Horford. The Memphis duo combined for just 21 points. 

Memphis shot just 40.9 percent from the field and never looked comfortable on the offensive end.

Say what you want about Horford this year, but he's done well with some tough defensive assignment. Horford elicited boos after a couple early misses. He then motioned to his mouth to shush those who booed after hitting a pair of shots. Slightly out of character for the even-keeled vet, but showing a little fire every now and then isn’t a bad thing.


J-Rich returns

Josh Richardson returned from a six-game absence because of a left hamstring strain. He wasn’t in the starting lineup — Shake Milton got his seventh straight start — and played just 15 minutes.

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