It wasn’t quite Team USA vs. the USSR, but Thursday night’s win for the Summer Sixers certainly qualified as an upset. With Phoenix having nearly half their regular season rotation playing in Summer League, the Suns felt comfortable enough against the then-0-3 Sixers to rest Josh Jackson for the game. The move seemed irrelevant after the Suns jumped out to a 14-point lead during the second quarter.
However, unlike their previous three contests, the Sixers caught fire as a team offensively to charge back into the lead. On the night, they shot 15-34 from behind the arc, led by former St. Joe’s Hawk Isaiah Miles, who drained 6 of his 8 three-point attempts for a game-high 20 points. Furkan Korkmaz shook off a couple cold outings to score 18 points on 3-6 shooting from three. Earlier in the first half, Korkmaz also had a really nice left-handed finish around the basket after initiating a give-and-go with a fancy behind-the-back pass. He was clearly back feeling confident out there, a great sign for Philadelphia.
The game was neck-and-neck down the stretch when the Sixers caught a couple of breaks. First, it looked like Demetrius Jackson could have been called for a backcourt violation in the face of a Phoenix trap. The whistles remained silenced, however, and the ball found its way over to Askia Booker, who drained a three to put Philadelphia back ahead by two possessions.
Then, with Phoenix holding the ball down two in the final seconds, Zhaire Smith flustered Mikal Bridges defensively (in reality, fouling him), causing Bridges to turn it over and seal the victory for the Sixers. Score round one of the trade in favor of Philadelphia. I’m sure it wasn’t exactly the storybook ending Bridges had in mind against his hometown club.
With the victory, the Sixers march on in Summer League tournament play, next set to take on Milwaukee Saturday night at 8:30pm EST. Could these Summer Sixers be the next hallowed group to raise a banner alongside the 2014 Orlando Summer League squad? We’ll find out soon enough, but they’re one step closer.
Other Game Notes:
- Zhaire Smith didn’t put up big numbers (he’ll be better served having teammates that can find him on his wide-open cuts), but he did have a couple plays to make you feel optimistic about his shot. Smith finished 1-2 from three, and also sank a smooth mid-range jumper off the dribble for an and-one.
- Jonah Bolden was a zero offensively, scoring no points on 0-4 shooting with 4 turnovers. He did play solid defense against DeAndre Ayton and recorded three blocks on the game. Still, it’s looking less and less certain that his plan to come over this year will become a reality.