Seltzer's Notebook | Simmons Fights Through Flu; Korkmaz Tests Point in Delaware
Simmons Fights On
Ben Simmons might not have been feeling his best Monday, but his start to the 76ers’ match-up with the Phoenix Suns certainly suggested otherwise. Within the first four minutes of regulation, he had scored on an 8-foot turnaround jump shot, a lay-up, and a powerful blow-by right-handed dunk. By the time the dynamic rookie was given his first breather 4 minutes, 23 seconds into the opening period, his line featured 8 points on 4 for 4 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Brett Brown thought Simmons held his own Monday, despite the Aussie starting to experience the effects of a virus over the weekend.
“I give him credit, because he had been in bed,” Brown said. “I think we tried to spread his minutes round where we didn’t try to ask for too much all in one clump. I thought he was ok.”
Simmons ended Monday evening with 20 points (9-18 fg, 2-2 ft), 8 boards, 7 dimes, and a career-best 6 steals. The only other players in Sixers history to achieve those figures in a single game were Maurice Cheeks (12/4/1987), Charles Barkley (1/27/1987), Julius Erving (4/9/1977), and George McGinnis (2/8/1976) [just for some context, all of those players have had their jerseys retired by at least one of the teams they played for in their respective careers].
Consistent with a mindset he’s carried with him throughout the first two months of his debut campaign, Simmons was more concerned Monday with how his team fared on the whole, rather than his own individual performance. And against the Suns, the Sixers ultimately came up short, 115-101.
“We didn’t play our best game,” said Simmons, who acknowledged he wasn’t feeling 100 percent. “We didn’t come in with the energy we needed to.”
With Monday’s contest, Simmons has now reached the 20-point mark on 8 occasions this season, a total that ranks second among the NBA’s current crop only to Donovan Mitchell’s 9 20-point outings.
Korkmaz Tests Out Different Role in Delaware
While the 76ers were in action Monday in South Philadelphia, their NBA G League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, had a game too, and there was a noteworthy development afoot.
Furkan Korkmaz, whom the Sixers chose 26th overall in the 2016 draft and is currently on a G League assignment, started at point guard for the Sevens for the first time.
Heading into Monday’s pairing with the Greensboro Swarm (the Charlotte Hornets’ affiliate) at Bob Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware, Sevens head coach Eugene Burroughs was thinking of ways to get his squad off to stronger starts, so he tinkered with his personnel a bit.
“I want to experiment to see how it goes,” he said.
Sure enough, Burroughs’ move worked. The Sevens stormed out of the gates, racing out to an early 17-3 advantage.
Korkmaz’s fingerprints were all over the game-opening blitz, as he finished the first frame with 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a plus-14 rating.
— Delaware 87ers (@Sevens) December 5, 2017
“He’s one of our better playmakers,” said Burroughs, when explaining his decision use Korkmaz on the ball more frequently Monday. “He gets guys shots, and can help add a downhill dimension.”
Bounce Back Opportunity
The Sixers are no strangers to the type of spot the Phoenix Suns were in Monday. Young, spunky, upset-minded team with talent unafraid to go up against a more established, seasoned opponent.
Not too long ago, it was the Sixers that were viewed in a similar light. With Devin Booker and TJ Warren combining for 71 points, Phoenix proved to be too much.
“It’s what we all experienced ourselves,” said Brett Brown, referring to recent history that characterized the early days of his tenure with the Sixers. “You come in, don’t have much to lose, playing basketball in front of 20,000 people. There’s a bounce to what you do, a feel-good mentality that’s not draped with that much pressure. You see young guys play free.”
Following Monday’s loss, the Sixers will have two days to regroup before welcoming the Los Angeles Lakers to The Center Thursday for a nationally televised affair on TNT.
“The great thing about the NBA is you always have another game,” said JJ Redick, whose 25 points (9-16 fg, 3 3fg) against Phoenix paced the Sixers. “This is a fairly long turnaround in today’s NBA. You got to move on to the next play, got to move on to the next game.”