Markelle Fultz sprains ankle as Sixers top Warriors

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Sixers 95, Warriors 93 – Box Score

It should have been a happy night. Larry Drew II hit a jumper with 8 seconds left to break a 93-93 tie and send the Summer Sixers home with a victory in their Vegas opener. We could have joked about how the Sixers had succeeded where Cleveland had failed, the defending champs were nothing, et cetera, et cetera.

But the actual game seemed meaningless in light of what had happened in the third quarter. Golden State’s Jabari Brown drove to the basket, in the process inadvertently connecting with an elbow to Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot’s face. Markelle Fultz, trying to come from behind for the block, stepped on the back of Brown’s foot with his left ankle. It immediately turned the wrong way and Fultz stumbled to the ground.

After the whistle, the scene literally looked like a Sixers fan’s worst nightmare. TLC had blood streaming down his feet, and Fultz was rolling on the ground, clearly unable to put any weight on his left leg. Fultz had to be helped off the court, and after the injury history for Philadelphia the last few years, all the worst thoughts ran through people’s minds. Remember Ben Simmons injured his foot and was gone for the season after stepping on someone’s foot in training camp.

Joel Embiid summed up the feelings of Sixers nation quite succinctly.

Luwawu-Cabarrot needed stitches to his lip. Painful, I’m sure, but he should ultimately be fine. The real concern was Fultz, but it seems like the Sixers might have avoided some of the worst-case scenarios.

Even if it’s a higher grade ankle sprain, Fultz should only be sidelined through the summer; there should be no impact on his availability in the regular season. Still, these were crucial developmental months and you hate to lose that time with your prized rookie. Also, the Sixers training staff doesn’t exactly have a sterling record as far as diagnosing injuries. Let’s just hope they didn’t botch the call here.

Before going down, Fultz struggled a bit with his shot, scoring 8 points on just 3-12 shooting. As always, though, he had a few plays that showed why he was a worthy first overall pick. This fake behind-the-back, wrap-around pass to an open man in the corner is something few guys would even think to attempt, let alone pull off.

Fultz also flashed his ability to create separation for himself out of nothing and score from different parts of the court.

Meanwhile, Furkan Korkmaz found Vegas more to his liking than Utah, leading the team with 15 points, going 5-9 from the field and 3-6 from three. He was in a tough spot earlier in the week having traveled across the world and being thrust into back-to-back games right away. Good to see him bounce back and have a solid performance. His terrific range and quick release are definitely skills the Sixers will make use of down the line.

It wouldn’t be a summer league game without a strong outing from Jonah Bolden, who recorded a double-double with 11 points on 5-7 shooting (1-3 3PT), 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Bolden can shoot, attacks the rim hard, rotates well defensively, and flies all over the court. My only gripe is he forces contested turnaround jumpers; he needs to cut those out of his game. But Bolden looks like an absolute steal in the second round that any team would love to have.

For Golden State, Patrick McCaw scored 25 points, taking on a much larger role than with the big club in making half of his 20 field goal attempts, including 5-11 from downtown. I just think it’s absolutely crazy to think that this guy was playing significant minutes in one of the most historic Finals ever a month ago, and now he’s in Summer League. It has to be one of the most bizarre shifts in level of competition ever.

As we await word on the severity of Fultz’ injury and an eventual timeline, the Summer Sixers are back in action late Sunday night against the Spurs.

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