As we continue to look back on some of the best Sixers games from the season thus far, it’s a no-brainer that we include Korkmaz’ game-winner in Portland. Even with Joel Embiid out due to suspension, the 76ers found a way to get it done (with some help from an unlikely hero)…
Four games into the 2019-20 NBA season, things were looking pretty good for the new-look Sixers. The fit was by no means perfect between Al Horford and Joel Embiid, but they were undefeated at this point in time so it was hard to complain. However, after knocking off the Celtics in the season opener, the team had yet to face another serious threat.
Traveling to Portland on November 2nd, the 4-0 Sixers were about to be pushed to the limit.
While today it’s easy to say the Trail Blazers aren’t one of the better teams in the NBA (29-37 record currently), early in the season this wasn’t the case. Coming off of a Western Conference Finals appearance the year before, many felt Damian Lillard and the Blazers were poised to be a top seed again. All eyes were turned to the seemingly juggernaut matchup that was set to take place between the 76ers and the Trail Blazers.
The game started out less than ideal for Philly, with the Blazers jumping out to an 11 point lead by halftime. Lillard was up to his usual antics, dropping in deep three after deep three, while the Sixers looked helpless on defense. Giving up 68 total points in the first half alone, it remains one of the team’s worst defensive performances of the season.
Despite the Blazers leading by as much as 21 at one point in the third quarter, the Sixers began slowly cutting that lead down bit by bit. Regardless of the lackluster effort on defense, the team was overall extremely efficient on the offensive side of things. Horford, Harris, Simmons, and Richardson all scored 15+, while Mike Scott and Furkan Korkmaz both chipped in double digits off the bench.
However, the drama in this one really kicked off in the closing seconds. With just 2.2 seconds remaining on the game clock, Trail Blazers’ Anfernee Simons drained a corner three to give his team the lead. Down 128-126, the Sixers would get the ball back with mere moments to make something happen. Brett Brown called a timeout, drew up a play, and set his unit out onto the court. With all eyes pointed towards Tobias Harris or Josh Richardson, the unexpected happened.
The pass went to Furkan Korkmaz of all people. The Turkish guard caught the ball, set his feet, gathered himself, and fired a deep three towards the basket as he was knocked to the ground. With less than half a second remaining, Korkmaz had somehow just won the Sixers the game. One of the best “feel good” moments of the season, praise for the young roleplayer rained down for weeks.
If you missed it, make sure to check out the previous piece in this series, where we broke down the #5 rated game of the Sixers’ 2019-20 season up to this point: https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/04/13/top-5-sixers-games-of-the-year-statement-win-over-the-clippers/
Mandatory Credit – © Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports