Sixers fall in closing seconds in Fultz debut

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Celtics 89, Sixers 88 – Box Score

In front of Danny Ainge and facing the Boston Celtics team that literally traded down to pass up on him, Markelle Fultz had just about a perfect start to the game in his professional debut. On the game’s very first possession, Fultz patiently put up a step-through jumper, the ball bouncing around and in reminiscent of all the lottery balls and other things that had to bounce just right for him to become a Sixer in the first place.

Then, on his first defensive possession, Fultz blocked Demetrious Jackson. A few plays later, he hit his very first attempt from downtown, showing how lethal he’s going to be in the pick-and-roll because teams will not be able to go under screens on him.

Alas, it wasn’t a Hollywood ending for Fultz and the Summer Sixers, as Boston ultimately prevailed in the closing seconds. Third overall pick Jayson Tatum made a jumper with 5 seconds left to put Boston ahead. On the game’s ensuing final possession, Fultz’s game-winning lay-up attempt was blocked by Jaylen Brown. I hope the Celtics victory is a talisman for Danny Ainge to hold on to while Fultz is terrorizing the Eastern Conference over the next decade.

Fultz finished with a line of 17 points on 6-16 shooting, including 2-5 from three, and showed off his two-way potential with three blocks. The one knock on his night was his 1 assist to 4 turnovers, which is where I remind you that it’s summer league and it was his first experience primarily playing off the ball. Seriously, if spin moves like this don’t throw your heart for a loop, I don’t know if you qualify as a fan.

In all fairness, Tatum also looked very good for Boston. He had 21 points on 8-17 shooting, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals, not only knocking down the game-winner but throwing down a hellacious dunk through traffic in the lane. Brown looked how a lottery pick in his second NBA season should look playing summer league, scoring 29 points on 10-16 shooting, including 3-4 from three, and grabbing 13 rebounds.

For the Sixers, second-year player Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot did not have his outside shot working, only hitting 1 of 9 from behind the arc. He did look very poised on the court though, collecting 7 rebounds and tying Larry Drew II with a team-high 5 assists.

Among guys who are on the fringe of what’s suddenly a very crowded Sixers roster, second-round pick Jonah Bolden was the clear standout. Bolden had 9 points on 4-10 shooting, shooting 1-4 from behind the arc, while swatting away 4 Boston shots. The Aussie was very active on both ends of the court, flashing his potential as a stretch big who can also protect the rim, basically the perfect modern archetype for what you want from a big man. He’s definitely a guy to watch as the summer continues.

The Summer Sixers will be back at it Wednesday night against the Jazz.

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