Furkan Korkmaz Leads Sixers To Opening Night Win Over Pelicans

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Furkan Korkmaz (30) drives to the basket during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

Sixers basketball is back.

The Sixers faced the New Orleans Pelicans in their first game of the 2021-22 NBA season. Unfortunately, they were without one of their stars, Ben Simmons.

It was a short offseason that was overshadowed by Simmons’ news as the Philadelphia 76ers made no major moves to the roster.

Philly began the game looking sharp with Joel Embiid looking nothing short of MVP form and helped the Sixers get out to a lead. He made a statement with 12 points, 3 rebounds, and four assists in the first quarter of the matchup. Embiid was given some medical attention to his knee after his first shift, which rattled the nerves a little bit.

The all-bench lineup returned to its full glory and was headlined by point guard Furkan Korkmaz this year. Andre Drummond and Georges Niang held down the frontcourt, with Isaiah Joe and Matisse Thybulle rounding out the roster. They struggled to score, and Drummond attempted to do way too much on the court. Ultimately the teams went into the half tied at 53, with Nickeil Alexander-Walker leading the Pelicans with 14 first-half points.

A 22-8 run in the third quarter brought the game back in the Sixers control. Some success from the bench led the team to an 11-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. An explosion of fourth-quarter scoring by Furkan Korkmaz blew the game open, and the Sixers cruised to a 117-97 victory.

Sixers Bench Looks Good

There should not be too much made about one game against the Pelicans without Zion Williamson, but there were some extremely encouraging signs from the Sixers bench. Andre Drummond and Georges Niang are both massive upgrades of Dwight Howard and Mike Scott. Niang scored 11 points and shot 3 of 4 four from beyond the arc. Drummond dominated on the boards and managed to secure 17 rebounds in 19 minutes of play.

The scoring burst that was provided by the second unit was enough to put the game away and allowed Joel Embiid to stay watching on the sideline. The Sixers superstar played just 26 minutes and did not check-in after the 2:40 mark in the third quarter. If the Sixers are to have any long-term success this season, Embiid’s health is the biggest key and tonight was a success in that regard.

The Furkan Korkmaz Show

After flirting with an exit during free agency, Furkan Korkmaz elected to return to the Sixers on a three-year deal. The 24-year-old took over in the fourth quarter and ended tied with Joel Embiid for a team-high 22 points. Korkmaz scored 18 of these points in the fourth and was 4-of-4 from beyond the arc.

It was also interesting to see Furkan run point guard with the second unit. While he has some experience during his time with the Turkish National Team, this was a new role to Furk with the Sixers, and he proved to look relatively comfortable. He ended with 5 assists, and if his teammates had knocked down proper shots, this could have been much higher. The 6’7 sniper showed his unwavering confidence and started off the season about as well as he possibly could.

Strong Showing from Tyrese Maxey

One of the biggest storylines heading into the game was how Tyrese Maxey would handle the promotion into the starting lineup. The 20-year-old led the Sixers in minutes with 34 minutes and added 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. He continued his growth in confidence from beyond the arc and shot 2-3 from downtown. This was a very positive performance from Maxey in his first game as the full-time starting point guard.

The Sixers showed up and did exactly what they were supposed to tonight. It was a business-like win for the franchise as they made easy work of the Pelicans without Zion. Brandon Ingram led the Pels with an impressive performance of 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, but the game was never in real danger. Despite all the outside noise that has clouded their season, the Sixers look focused on taking care of business on the court. They will be back in action on Friday for the home-opener against the Brooklyn Nets.