Tuesday night’s ugly loss to the Celtics was in the rear view mirror on Thursday as the Sixers dominated the Bulls, 127-108.
Both teams started off hot, trading three-pointers, and-1s, and virtually no defense leading to a 41-38 first quarter lead for Chicago. It was all Philadelphia from there, however, who shut down the Bulls offense in the 2nd and 3rd quarters while taking advantage of open looks both inside and outside the paint.
Point guard Zach Lavine impressed, posting 30 points to lead the way for the Bulls. Forward Bobby Portis added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and former Milwaukee Buck Jabari Parker added 15 points off the bench.
Joel Embiid led the way for the Sixers, scoring 30 points to go along with 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 blocks. Simmons added a triple-double, his first of this season following 12 from last season. Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Dario Saric, and rookie Landry Shamet were a combined 11-27 from beyond the arch, shooting much better than they did Tuesday against the Celtic’s stingy perimeter defense.
The spotlight was on Markelle Fultz the entire game, as fans encouraged and cheered him on to shoot whenever he had the ball. While the second-year guard passed up open looks in the first-half, he became more aggressive as the Sixers took a bigger lead and began to let it fly. Fultz finished 5-15 on the night, with his biggest highlight being his pull-up 3 early in the fourth quarter, which brought the fans in Wells Fargo Center to their feet.
Brown left Fultz in the entire fourth quarter, allowing him to man the offense and be aggressive with his shot selection. When the Sixers play lesser opponents, these late minutes will be key for Fultz. Because they usually take large leads by the end of the third quarter against these teams, Brown will have the flexibility to allow Fultz to do his thing in late non-stress minutes. This, coupled with teams defenses giving Fultz plenty of his space due to his shooting struggles, will allow Fultz to experiment with his shot and hopefully gain back confidence that he had as a freshman at Washington. Fultz did get all of the attention following the game, however it was another young guard who really stood out on Thursday night.
Following a strong preseason, rookie Landry Shamet made himself the favorite over second-year guard Furkan Korkmaz to play a role in Brett Brown’s rotation with veterans Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler sidelined. Shamet failed to make a shot in his first NBA game in Boston, but he shined Thursday against the Bulls. The Wichita State product made four 3-pointers on seven attempts, oozing confidence in his ability to drain the long ball. It’s no coincidence that three of Shamet’s four 3’s came on assists from Simmons. Simmons’ thrives on being able to find the open man, and having the sharpshooter Shamet will help Simmons space out the floor well. The rookie was active on defense, too, and can figure into Brown’s rotation even when everyone gets healthy if he can keep this effort up.
The Sixers win improves them to 1-1, and they figure to beat bad teams like the Bulls all season long. Look for next Wednesday’s game in Milwaukee to be their biggest test since losing badly to the Celtics on Tuesday.
The Sixers’ next game comes on Saturday at home against the Magic. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM ET.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports