Fultz shines as Sixers drop Summer League debut

By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Sixers fell to the Boston Celtics by a score of 89-88 to kick off the Utah Jazz Summer League at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in a down-to-the-wire finish. 

The Sixers started out on a good note, with first overall pick Markelle Fultz showing his ability to glide around defenders on the very first possession of the game to give the Sixers an early lead. Fultz played limited minutes in the first half, playing nine minutes and scoring seven points with two blocks.

The Sixers led 12-6 in the first quarter before former third overall pick Jaylen Brown got hot for the Celtics to give them a 24-22 lead at the end of the first quarter. Brown ended the first half with 17 points and six rebounds, doing a lot of the work for the Celtics on both ends. 

Two other members of the 2017 draft class stood out, that being the third overall pick in Boston's Jayson Tatum and the Sixers' 36th overall selection and potential draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden

Tatum played 17 minutes in the first half, scoring nine points including seven straight for the Celtics capped off by an impressive dunk over Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Kaleb Tarczewski.

Bolden played 10 minutes, scoring two points and blocking three shots to go with a steal, assist, and rebound. Bolden was very physical against former first-round pick Ante Zizic who weighs close to 260 pounds. 

The game was tied at 44-44 at the  half. TLC led all sixers with 11 points while Brown led all players with his 17.

The Sixers took control in the second half, opening up a ten point lead a little past the halfway point of the quarter. Markelle Fultz again dazzled, making a great move to the rim to open the quarter. He later hit with the pull-up jumper that he became known for at Washington. Fultz went to the bench in the third quarter after recording his third block with 11 points in 13 minutes, as well as some praise from defending champion Kevin Durant:

Jonah Bolden continued to be active, hustling for loose balls and even drawing "oohs" and "ahs" from the crowd after a put-back jam. He finished with nine points, four blocks, and four rebounds. 

The Sixers led 71-64 after three, after giving up eight straight points to Boston to close the quarter.

The Celtics used a gigantic run to grab a 77-76 lead, but two at the line from Fultz and five consecutive points from St. Joe's product Isaiah Miles put the Sixers back on top. 

 The Celtics again managed to tie it up, this time at 83. The two teams jockeyed for position throughout the fourth to lead to an exciting finish. 

The Celtics grabbed an 87-85 lead when Demetrius Jackson's alley oop pass banked off the rim and right back to him, allowing him to drive the lane and deposit a lay up. 

On the other end Fultz drew a foul, but only hit one of his two free throws to pull the Sixers within one. 

Alex Poythress swatted a Boston attempt off of the glass on the ensuing possession and Fultz led the fast break. His layup was heavily contested but Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was Johnny on the spot and tipped it back to give the Sixers an 88-87 lead with 20.8 seconds left. 

Boston would answer, with third overall pick Jayson Tatum knocking down a mid-range jumper that is the strength of his game with a hair over five seconds left in the game. 

The Sixers inbounded to Fultz, who attacked the rim, but Jaylen Brown capped off his great night with a block to preserve the win for the Celtics. 

Brown and Tatum combined for 50 of the Celtics points, with Brown leading all players with 29 points and 13 rebounds.

Markelle fultz led all Sixers with 17 points in 22 minutes. Luwawu-Cabarrot contributed 16 points. Delaware 87ers player Aaron Harrison, Isaiah Miles, and process soldiers Alex Poythress and Larry Drew II all finished in double figures as well.

Fultz started as the shooting guard, but defended the opposition's ball handler which could be a preview of how the team will lineup when Ben Simmons is in the mix during the regular season.

The Summer Sixers will play again on July 5th against the Utah Jazz.