Sixers beat Bulls in home opener behind Ben Simmons’ triple-double, Joel Embiid’s 30 points
Markelle Fultz got hot in the fourth quarter, Ben Simmons had his first triple-double of the season, and Joel Embiid had 30 points in the team's home-opening win.
This was more to the 76ers' liking.
They looked like contenders in the second half of Thursday's 127-108 victory against the undermanned Chicago Bulls in the home opener, two days after being blown out by the Boston Celtics.
It can be argued that the difference was matter of the opponent. On Tuesday in Boston, the Sixers (1-1) lost to a Celtics squad favored to reach the NBA Finals. Meanwhile in the Bulls (0-1), they faced a squad coming off a 27-55 record and missing three players.
Taking advantage, the Sixers broke the game open by outscoring the Bulls, 37-18, in the third quarter. That gave them a commanding 102-76 advantage.
Ben Simmons had his first triple-double of the season and 13th of his career. He finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and one steal. The 2017-18 rookie of the year becomes the first Sixer to post a tripe-double in a home opener. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid had a team-high 30 points on 9-for-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds and four blocks.
In all, the Sixers had eight players — including all five starters — score in double figures.
Markelle Fultz's performance was the fans' favorite. He had 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting, including 1 of 3 on three-pointers. Fultz scored seven points in the fourth quarter on 3-for-6 shooting.
He received a standing ovation after making a three-pointer with 8 minutes, 49 seconds remaining.
That shot put the Sixers up, 108-88. The 2017 first-overall draft pick heard chats of "Fultz, Fultz, Fultz" after making the basket.
He said there was a little bit of relief associated with making the first three-pointer of his career.
"I worked hard this summer," Fultz said. "I shot threes. I shot mid-range. I worked on my game. So I was comfortable. I believed in it, and I thought it was going in, which it did."
Zach LaVine had a team-high 30 points for the Bulls.
Early on, Fultz passed up several open looks like he did against the Celtics. It was obvious that the Bulls didn't respect his ability to make shots from the outside, sagging 14 feet off him.
"It doesn't bother me," he said of the defenders sagging off. "I know I'm capable of."
Fultz was mostly a nonfactor in the first half. He did, however, attempt one long two-pointer in the second quarter that rimmed out.
But the crowd was supportive of the player who has relearned how to shoot after overcoming the "yips." He received a standing ovation in the second quarter after making a 13-footer on his fifth shot. Fultz missed his first four shots.
There was times during the game when the crowd chanted for him to shoot the ball.
The Sixers have decided to start Fultz over JJ Redick to help him develop and build his confidence. Redick, however, gets the start in the beginning of the second half.
Sixers coach Brett Brown said he doesn't have a timeline for how long he'll stick with Fultz as a starter.
"I am saying it is all up in the air," he said. "I'm not putting a fence around what I do with him or with you all, just so that I am honest. I'm not saying I am doing this for the whole season. I'm not saying I'm just doing this tonight."
Brown added that he considered bringing Fultz off the bench instead. However, Brown compares bringing Redick off the bench to the San Antonio Spurs' deciding to use Manu Ginobili in a reserve role during Brown's time as an assistant there.
"JJ has to be factored into this," Brown said. "This decision I've made doesn't make it right. But it sure has made it studied. And we thought it out a lot."
The Sixers are still without their top three offseason acquisitions — Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and Zhaire Smith — along with reserve guard Jerryd Bayless. Smith is sidelined until December with a broken left foot. Bayless (sprained left knee) is a couple of weeks away from returning. Brown said the team will be without Chandler (strained left hamstring) and Muscala (sprained right ankle) for a while.
Chandler said he hopes to return on Oct. 27 for the home game against the Charlotte Hornets.
The 31-year-old, who was acquired in a trade from the Denver Nuggets, said it has been frustrating not being able to play. He's been sidelined since suffering his injury in the Sept. 28 preseason opener against Melbourne United.
"When you watch the games like the Boston game, from the sidelines or me at home, it's kind of frustrating not to be out there helping your team," Chandler said. "Not saying I would have made the game go differently, but I would have been out there helping the guys or going through the same struggles with them."
Chicago's starting forward Lauri Markkanen will be sidelined until around late November with an elbow injury. Kris Dunn, the starting point guard, missed the game due to the birth of his first child, a son. And Denzel Valentine hasn't been able to play since the start of the preseason with a sprained ankle.