Ben Simmons was spot on from everywhere bar the free throw line as the Australian finished one assist shy of a triple double in the 76ers’ 119-114 win against Phoenix.
Simmons produced 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists but connected on just one of six foul shots as Philly stayed perfect (9-0) at home.
Joel Embiid (33 points, 17 rebounds) and Mike Muscala (18 points, five rebounds) abused the undersized Suns front court but perhaps the most noteworthy development of the night revolved around troubled No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz.
After a bizarre rookie season where he suffered from a confusing injury and appeared to lose all confidence in his shot, Fultz was inserted into the 76ers’ starting line-up this season in an attempt to get him going.
But the addition via trade of Jimmy Butler saw him relegated to the bench and it got worse on Tuesday (AEST) as he lost his back-up minutes to TJ McConnell after a poor first half.
Fultz failed to score in seven minutes of court time and didn’t feature again.
Markelle Fultz is so lost out there, it’s painful to watch.— Andrew Porter (@And_Porter)
There’s a chance we look back on tonight as the night the Markelle Fultz era entered its final act…McConnell getting the backup point guard minutes in the second half. Seems bound to happen at some point. Better D. Better energy. Better feel for the offense— David Murphy (@ByDavidMurphy)
this is probably a very low point in the markelle fultz saga with 7 minutes played, will be interesting to see how he responds— Drew Corrigan (@Dcorrigan50)
Despite his demotion, Fultz was spotted smiling and cheering on his teammates from the bench — showing particular support for McConnell, the man who replaced him.
Coach Brett Brown said he doesn’t know yet if McConell will replace Fultz as the preferred point guard replacement for Ben Simmons.
“I’m going to think it through deeper and look at some tape and see who we’re playing, all those things I should do,” he said when asked how he will decide between McConnell and Fultz in future games.
Phoenix began the game with great energy as former Sixer Richuan Holmes and draft day trade Mikal Bridges looked to prove a point.
Devin Booker (37 points) was a constant threat but the Suns’ scoring dried up in quarters two and three and they were unable to seriously challenge despite keeping it close down the stretch.
Rookie beast Deandre Ayton also had 17 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes.
Embiid scoffed at analysts’ comparisons of Ayton to him made on draft day, saying on Twitter: “Don’t compare Ayton to me either.I play DEFENSE.”
The boisterous 76ers centre then told ESPN in a preseason interview that Ayton was “about to get his (butt) kicked.”
To his credit, the Suns rookie responded to questions about Embiid by saying he would let his game do his talking.
And the 7-footer did just that in the first possession on Monday night, finishing Booker’s pass with an alley-oop dunk for an emphatic start to the game. Then, he forced Embiid into a turnover in the 76ers star’s first touch on offense.
But Embiid got the better from that point.
STAR FINED FOR CURSING OUT COACH
Washington star John Wall has reportedly been fined after his training bust-up with coach Scott Brooks was revealed.
Ths star shooter is accused of responding to his coach’s instructions by saying: “F*** you”.
According to sources, John Wall and Jeff Green also got into it and their player-on-player verbal altercation led to Coach Scott Brooks trying to intervene and that’s when Wall hurled an expletive at the coach.— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner)
According to the Washington Post, Wall and teammate Jeff Green got heated during a training session before Wall lashed out at his mentor when Brooks attempted to intervene.
It comes after ESPN journalist Adrian Wojnarowski revealed Wall is up for trade from the Wizards with the team open to receiving offers on the sharpshooter.
It comes after Washington fell 119-109 to Portland on Monday (AEDT).
Wall scored 24 points and Kelly Oubre, Jr. added 19 for the Wizards, who slipped to 5-11.
“We’ve got to just play with more enthusiasm, more effort, more energy,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after the loss.
Wall said that he would try and continue to lead the Wizards, but was limited in what he could do.
“You can’t teach effort. You can’t teach heart,” Wall said.
WALKER MAKES IT 103 IN TWO GAMES
Kemba Walker scored 43 points, giving him 103 in his last two games, and the Charlotte Hornets battled back to beat the Boston Celtics 117-112 on Monday night.
Walker followed up his NBA season-best, 60-point effort in an overtime loss to the 76ers on Saturday night with another spectacular performance, scoring 21 in the fourth quarter and making 14 of 25 shots, including seven more 3-pointers. Walker outdueled Boston’s Kyrie Irving, who finished with 27 points and 11 assists.
Jeremy Lamb had 18 points and Willy Hernangomez added 14 as the Hornets beat the Celtics for the first time in eight tries.
The Celtics entered the fourth quarter leading 87-84 and quickly stretched the lead to double digits behind Irving, who scored and was fouled on a drive. But Walker refused to lose this time.
The two-time All-Star simply took over, scoring on drives, midrange jumpers and from long distance. He scored 11 straight points in one stretch, including a 3-pointer from the right wing. Walker was 7 of 10 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 4 of 6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Tony Parker also had two key jumpers down the stretch and finished with seven points.
After Jayson Tatum knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half, Walker delivered the dagger with another clutch 3 from 27 feet away with 32 seconds left, bringing fans to their feet. Irving missed two open 3s down the stretch and the Hornets escaped with the win to pull even at .500.