NEW YORK -- It was a memorable weekend for 76ers swingman Furkan Korkmaz, the biggest of his three-year NBA career.
Against the Knicks, the 22-year-old native of Turkey shot 6-for-12 from the field, including 3-for-7 from three-point range and 2-for-3 from the foul line.
His performance in New York came after he went 8-for-11 (6-for-9 from three) and 2-for-2 from the foul line against the Bulls. He is not only playing with more confidence, but he’s earning the trust of his teammates as well.
“He is just more comfortable and is starting to understand his role and starting to fit in,” forward-center Al Horford said. “I believe he is a big piece of what we’re doing because of his versatility and all he can do on offense.”
What he does best is shoot the three, which helps spread the floor.
While Korkmaz’s results have been up and down, like many of his teammates this season, during the last three games, he has shot 12-for-22 from three-point range (.545). Not so coincidentally, the Sixers (28-16) are on a three-game winning streak. They also snapped a six-game road losing streak with the win over the Knicks.
For the season Korkmaz is shooting 39.1% from beyond the arc.
There is an aura surrounding Madison Square Garden and Korkmaz certainly felt that.
“I was feeling really good on the court, especially playing at Madison Square Garden. Playing against the Knicks gives you a different feeling," he said.
Despite his big game Friday, the Knicks left Korkmaz open for several clear looks. And at times when they came up to defend him, he put the ball on the floor and drove to the basket, one time scoring on a 7-foot floater.
Right now, he feels he can score in a variety of ways.
“As a shooter,” he said, "I know when they see I am making threes, they come closer to me and I have to drive.”
The key for Korkmaz has been how quickly he is able to get his shot off. The Knicks were having a difficult time closing in on him when he would let fly from three.
“People who can catch a basketball and shoot on whatever level they caught it without having a dip, equals you can get your shot off in the playoffs,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “With Furk, he is able to catch and shoot an NBA three without having to dip.”
Brown thinks that Korkmaz is an improved defender, but it is his three-point-shooting ability that will get him time on the court.
It’s playing time that few expected after last season. That’s because Korkmaz, missed most of the second half of last season with a knee injury and was no longer thought to be part of the team’s plans.
The Sixers even declined his third-year option, but they eventually signed him to a two-year contract in July. Now he continues to make the most of his playing time.