Last night was supposed to be Jimmy Butler’s coming out party, but instead we’re sitting here talking about the same problem we were talking about last week and last year.

The Sixers blew another huge lead, this time watching a 16-point fourth quarter advantage evaporate in front of dozens of people at the Amway Center. Orlando went on a 21-0 run and got a clutch three-pointer from Terrence Ross to close out the game in crunch time.

It was 92 to 76 at the 10:51 mark in the fourth quarter when the Magic ripped off seven straight points, forcing Brett Brown to use a timeout. That seemed like a no-brainer call for a team that looked static on offense and had just missed a three point shot after committing a turnover.

Another two minutes transpired as Orlando pulled ahead 95-92, and only then did Brown use a second timeout to try to stop the bleeding.

It shouldn’t have gotten to that point in the first place.

That timeout should have been used after Joel Embiid was blocked on a dunk attempt, resulting in a Ross three-pointer at the other end. The obviously rattled Sixers followed it up with another poor offensive possession and gave up another basket, which saw Orlando extend their lead even further.

Here’s the play in question:

Call the timeout right there.

Your team is obviously staggered after a sequence like that. Bring them over to the bench and regroup.

I feel like Brett sometimes lets these things go on for an extra possession or two while his team flounders on the court. Sure, he used that first timeout when the run was at 7-0, but didn’t call the second until Orlando had put 12 more points on the board. He had four timeouts in his pocket when the run began, so it wasn’t like there was a concern of burning through every timeout. He’s not Andy Reid. And while I appreciate the fact that Brown likes to allow his guys to play through their slumps and figure it out on their own, sometimes you just have to stop the clock to let a guy like Ross simply cool off for a bit.

Even then, it wasn’t like the Sixers were smooth to finish the game. Wilson Chandler had to bail out the squad with three ridiculous buckets in the span of something like two minutes, first hitting a tough floater in traffic, then a 27-foot three pointer, followed by a baseline reverse dunk off the dribble. He then came out of the game for Mike Muscala due to the minutes restriction he was given as a result of his preseason hamstring injury.

The Sixers had some chances late, drawing up an inverted pick and roll and some DHO action for JJ Redick, who committed an offensive foul on the first play and stepped out of bounds on the second.

Result = bad loss.

Jimmy Butler

They called the first play of the game for him.

It’s that three man flare and curl that they’ve run for JJ Redick and Markelle Fultz this season:

You’ve seen this before. They put two players in the corner then flare the shooter to the opposite wing. He then comes back and curls off screens from Embiid and Ben Simmons to get a three point shot or step into a 20-footer.

On the first try, Butler ended up passing the ball, and on this play here, in the dying moments of the 4th quarter, Evan Fournier was whistled for fouling Simmons before Butler could step into a shot.

Jimmy had 14 points and 4 rebounds and I thought he looked just fine in his debut. He scored early on a layup and a dunk and had a nice backdoor cut to get a tough bucket. His ability to finish at the rim is really only matched by Simmons on this squad.

I particularly loved that third quarter drive where he just slipped three guys off the dribble and got a dunk. Nobody else on the team has that in their skill set.

Maybe you want to see him get some more looks in the fourth quarter, because that’s why you brought him in, right? You needed a closer. You needed somebody to have the ball in their hands and get you a difficult bucket to help stave off a run or put a game to bed.

Here’s Jimmy’s shot chart from game one:

I’m okay with that. He’ll get much more comfortable with the offense in a week or so, and he’ll start to get the timing and rhythm going with his teammates. Butler has averaged about 15 shots per game going back a few years now, so that number will start to come up as he settles in.

I also particularly enjoyed this moment of trolling:

He’ll fit in nicely here, just gotta get him integrated.

Joel Embiid

His first career triple-double.

How about that? I don’t know where the 10th assist came from, but they’re giving it to him anyway.

I felt like he spent a lot of time on the perimeter in this game, did he not? He was being dragged out defensively and also settled for some threes on the offensive end, which were going down early. Joel was 4-7 from three but only hit 2 of 13 shots elsewhere on the floor. He only got the foul line for four shots, which was waaaaaaay down from the 20 attempts he had in the Miami win.

Listen, it’s nice that Joel is a respectable three-point shooter, and he’s hit some big ones this year. But he’s obviously much more effective when he can draw fouls and put opposing bigs in foul trouble and get himself to the free throw line. When you’re out of sync and flailing and you need to stop an opponent run, junking it up and getting some fouls via Joel is a good way to do it. Dump it in to him, let him work, or put the ball in Jimmy Butler’s hands moving forward. That’s the best way to close out these games.

There was also this:

Markelle Fultz

Removed from the starting lineup, he came in at the 4:00 mark in the first quarter and ran point on a unit that looked like this:

  1. Fultz
  2. JJ Redick
  3. Furkan Korkmaz
  4. Mike Muscala
  5. Amir Johnson

He hit a really smooth elbow-ish jumper in the second quarter:

That’s Markelle’s most comfortable play, and it has been for the entire season. If you go through the film this year, he looks most assertive coming off an Embiid screen and taking that foul-line pull-up. It looks natural and smooth, and it really makes you wonder what the hell was up with the brick three-pointer and double-clutch free throw from Monday night.

Obviously Markelle has the skill. I don’t think that was in doubt. It’s just about taking plays like that one above and making them a regular thing on the court.

I also really liked that heads-up play at the end of the third quarter where he grabbed an Embiid air ball and put in a reverse layup as time expired. Really smart and aware stuff from Markelle, who finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 20 minutes of second team work.

Other notes:

  • Loved JJ Redick driving into the paint, faking the pass, and tossing up a pretty floater. He hit two shots last night where Orlando was so concerned about the Embiid roll that they just left Redick a wide open lane to the rim.
  • Only two shots for Ben Simmons in the first half. He finished 3-5 overall.
  • More issues last night with the broadcast on FIOS: choppy and pixelated and laggy and whatever else is going on. Might be time to cut the cord.
  • Embiid missed that earlier dunk that I showed you, but they’ve run that inverted pick and roll with Redick as the screener at least 5-6 times this season where Joel has basically had a free run at the basket. They ran it again on their second to last possession and got whistled for a push off foul on Redick:

  • Furkan Korkmaz chipped in 8 points and remains in the rotation as the backup small forward. I’d imagine that goes back to Zhaire Smith when he’s healthy, but I think Furkan can play a bit.