Two straight wins for the Sixers, and two straight nights in which batches of Furkan Korkmaz three pointers were the catalyst for pulling away in the second half.
It’s hard not to appreciate the Korkmaz story in 2020. Here’s a guy who had his option declined last season and asked for a trade that wasn’t granted. He stuck around anyway, explored options elsewhere, but came back to the Sixers anyway hoping to fill a role as a bench scorer on what we thought might be a stacked team. He hits a game winner in Portland, goes cold for a bit, then comes back in January with a career-high 24 points on 8-11 shooting, hitting six of his nine threes.
“Everybody could see that I was really feeling it,” Korkmaz said after his best NBA performance. “They just tried to find me, and I also got good open looks. I think, as a team, we really focused on moving the ball tonight and taking good shots. We executed the game plan well.”
“That’s why it’s the NBA. Some things you can control, some things you can’t control. But right now I’m happy to be here and be part of this team, and just trying to give my best on the court. Every player has ups and downs in their career but I think right now I’ve found my role on the team. I’m just going there to help my teammates get the win.”
It wasn’t just catch and shoot three pointers; Korkmaz was used in different looks that go back to last year and the year prior, when JJ Redick was the focal point of Brett Brown sets and play calls.
Said the head coach on that, and Korkmaz’s performance:
“To say it’s incredible would be too dramatic. But it’s a heck of a story, isn’t it? Just where he was and where he is. For us to see him – and he’s young, can’t forget his birth certificate – but for him to come in and do JJ (Redick) type stuff and have that type of a bomber, that was different. That was different than what relates to the current skill set. We put him in a bunch of stuff. We probably ran five plays in a row going to him, and I had flash backs of JJ. We jumped back into JJ’s package. He changed the game. He gave us a spark. I don’t remember JJ dunking like that, but the long shot and ‘bam, bam, bam,’ quick points and buckets fueled our defense. He was our bell ringer tonight.”
Here’s a chunk of Furkan’s shots, and you can see they put him into that Redick/Simmons slip/screen again, just like Wednesday night. There was a high handoff and a couple cross court catch and shoots:
Brett Brown on this:
When you choose, like who has the capability to set screens or slip screens, then you’re running backwards and you have to turn and square your shoulders and get your balance and be able to shoot that shot – like that’s a hard shot to shoot. There’s more action after that if you don’t shoot it. But yes, we have put him into that action that used to be sort of anointed for JJ. It has dust on it, moth balls, but we drug it out of the closet and he’s been successful with it.
It’s true. Korkmaz is really the only guy who can replicate what Redick was able to do in that low-to-high setting. If they can continue to build on it, they’ll have a very nice bench piece heading towards the playoffs. They need scoring and he’s one of the few guys who can do it in quick spurts.
Too many men on the floor
First time I’ve seen this in three years writing about the Sixers now.
Korkmaz actually should have had another three, but it was waved off and Chicago was given a technical foul when the Sixers blew a substitution and had six guys on the court:
Here’s a better look as Kyle O’Quinn first tries to get off the floor near the baseline, then Tobias Harris sees what’s going on, but he’s too late:
Fake news Philadephia thought they could pull a fast one playing 6 on 5! Sad! pic.twitter.com/8n1hGz0FLp
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) January 18, 2020
Brown said this when asked about it after the game:
Brown: We played a different rotation tonight, and we sub kind of consistently over the years. A group went in, wasn’t communicated, and that’s what happened. I’ll own that. It’s a direct result of playing new rotations and new people.
Crossing Broad: It looked like Tobias was trying to run off at the end there.
Crossing Broad: Was he supposed to come off?
Brown: Yeah, he was trying to get off, and Mike Scott was coming in for him. There was confusion. I appreciate you bringing that up (sarcasm).
It’s all good. Shit happens.
- Four Philadelphia Union players rang the bell.
- A light round of applause for former Sixer Thad Young.
- Raul Neto again got the nod over Trey Burke.
- Kyle O’Quinn is your backup big now that Norvel Pelle no longer has NBA days remaining on his two-way contract. They have to convert his contract to allow him to play again. Pelle I think just gives you a lot more energy and athleticism around the rim right now, especially defensively (and without Joel Embiid out there)
- 20 points for Al Horford on 8-14 shooting. He looked a lot better Friday night, popping and screening and moving the ball around like he did in Boston.
- 11-11 from the foul line for a 100% mark. Still need to get to the line more though.
- Ben Simmons played some tough, tough defense down the stretch. Say what you will about his offensive game, but he really does play hard every night out.
Enjoy your weekend.