Game Recap | Butler Provides Encouraging Signs in Debut, but Team Falls in Orlando
Before the 76ers (8-7) took the floor at Amway Center, you had a general gist of what the hard angle would be.
How did Jimmy Butler, acquired Monday in a megatrade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, fare in his first outing with his new squad?
In short, the two-way standout jumped right in, finishing with 14 points (6-12 fg, 2-2 ft), four rebounds, and two assists.
Unfortunately for the Sixers, they were unable to mark Butler’s anticipated debut with a win, bowing to the Orlando Magic, 111-106.
For Brett Brown, the loss provided an important reminder, especially in the context of a league as tough as the NBA.
“It’s hard,” Brown said about integrating Butler into the mix, following the finale of the Sixers’ three-game road trip. “He comes in, and he’s trying to do the right thing.
“He’s trying to figure everybody else out. They’re trying to figure him out, and it’s going to take time.”
Specific to the start of Wednesday’s contest, it would have been hard to envision the first eight minutes of Butler’s Sixers career going much more smoothly.
Despite a whirlwind past few days, the 29-year old put his signature high motor on display early. He was an active body on both ends of the floor, and converted his first three field goal attempts of the evening - a cutting lay-up, a dunk, and a 16-foot pull-up.
By the time his first breather came around, Butler had already netted eight points, and nabbed a rebound. He was a bit more aggressive looking for his scoring opportunities in Wednesday’s third period, producing six points on 3 for 5 shooting.
In the fourth frame, he handed out two assists. His final one came on a Mike Muscala (5 pts, 5 reb) triple that gave the Sixers a 104-100 edge with three and a half minutes to go.
From there, the Magic held the Sixers without a basket the rest of the way, and emerged with their fifth win in seven tries.
“Obviously, we didn’t get the win, and get the outcome we wanted to have,” said Butler, “but we got a lot more of these things. I think we will all be better, myself included.”
Joel Embiid delivered his latest dynamic performance Wednesday, posting the first triple-double of his career. He tallied 19 points (6-20 fg, 4-7 3fg), 13 boards, and 10 assists.
JJ Redick scored a team-best 22 points, while Wilson Chandler, in a starting role, enjoyed a productive evening, adding 14 points (6-10 fg) and four rebounds.
The Sixers led by as many as 16 points early in Wednesday’s fourth quarter, but the Magic quickly turned the tables by ripping off 21 points in a row.
Ben Simmons (9 pts, 3 reb, 6 ast) tied the tilt, 106-106, with a pair of free throws with 52 seconds left. Orlando answered with a go-ahead triple, then secured the win due to the Sixers committing turnovers on their next two possessions.
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There have already been a slew of superlative statistical feats that Joel Embiid has accomplished during his outrageous start to the 2018-19 campaign, so why not add another one to the list?
Against Orlando Wednesday, the 7-footer manufactured the first triple-double of his career - 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
With the milestone coming in defeat, Embiid didn’t seem overly impressed with himself. He did, however, acknowledge that the achievement provided further proof that he is a well-rounded talent.
That’s something Embiid takes great pride in.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said about his triple-double, “but like I said before, I’m a complete player. If feel like I could do everything on the basketball court.”
Seeing Embiid put up points and rebounds in high volume has become a norm this season. In Orlando, he registered his NBA-best 14th double-double.
That Embiid’s assist numbers reached double-figures against the Magic was a different story. In Brett Brown’s eyes, the output was representative of the 24-year old’s evolution.
“I think he’s not playing the game as fast in his own mind,” Brown said. “I think he’s letting the table get set. I think he’s playing with a tremendous amount of poise. ”
Fultz's Focus is to Help
Markelle Fultz doesn’t mind telling anyone willing to listen:
Every time he steps on the floor, no matter the opponent, or his role in the rotation, his goal is to play hard, compete, and make winning plays.
With Jimmy Butler assuming a spot in the Sixers’ starting line-up Wednesday at Amway Center, Fultz came off the bench. He did well, producing 8 points (4-6 fg), three rebounds, and two assists in 20 minutes.
In both halves against Orlando, the 2017 no. 1 pick was given extended stints, each lasting about 10 minutes.
Of note, he was on the court Wednesday in the second half when the Sixers widened their lead to a game-high 16 points.
“It bears out, he’s really good,” Brett Brown said.
Especially, Brown thinks, at point guard.
“We played him exclusively as that tonight, and I saw him make plays out of a middle pick-and-roll, get into the paint. I thought defensively he was good tonight as well.”
“My mindset is as soon as I step on the floor, help the team win,” said Fultz.
In Orlando, he almost succeeded.
Chandler Displays Promising Flashes
Wednesday was just the fifth appearance as a Sixer for Wilson Chandler, and without question, it was his most impactful one yet.
Of his season-best 14 points (he had scored 15 points TOTAL through his first four outings), nine came in the fourth quarter.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 15, 2018
Playing well on both ends of the court, an increasingly healthy Chandler showed the Sixers, and their fans, the type of veteran wing man they targeted in the summer.
“I think Wilson had a great game,” said Ben Simmons. “Knocked down shots, rebounding the ball well, played defense. I think he was huge for us tonight.”
‘Gram of the Game:
Certainly a moment worth noting.
Friday figures to be a heck of a night in South Philadelphia. Not only will it be a ‘Spirit of 76’ game, which means the Sixers will once again sport their nice new City Edition uniforms; not only will it be Jimmy Butler’s first home game as a member of the team; but the Utah Jazz will be in town. That means intriguing match-ups between the likes of perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert, plus, last year’s top two rookies - Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell - lined up across from each other.