Simmons, Fultz make their Sixers debuts in preseason loss

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By: Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz treated Sixers fans to a show on Wednesday night to open preseason as the two former number one draft picks both made their Sixers debuts at Wells Fargo Center in a losing effort to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Simmons played the first nine minutes of the contest and showed no ill-effects from his broken foot that kept him out all of last season. Simmons had four points, two rebounds, and five assists in his first nine minutes. One of those assists was on a half-court alley oop to Richaun Holmes that got the crowd fired up. You can see how Simmons looked in the first quarter here:

The Grizzlies led by nine after the first quarter, and quickly stretched the lead to as many as 14 points in the second quarter before Simmons and Fultz reentered and immediately sparked the Sixers offense. Simmons added two points and two more assists in the final two minutes of the half. 

Markelle Fultz did not find his scoring touch in the first half, but did have some nice assists of his own, showing that the Sixers backcourt will be able to create a lot of open looks this season. 

The Sixers only trailed by one at the end of the first half as the Grizzlies took a 56-55 lead into the break. 

J.J. Redick had a key play in trimming the Memphis lead as he drilled a three-point attempt from the corner while getting fouled. Redick hit the free throw to convert the four point play towards the end of the half. 

The Sixers were led by Redick and Jahlil Okafor in the first half who scored 11 points each. Okafor – who inspired the hashtag #VeganJah after his dietary switch in the offseason – looked very active, especially on the offensive end where his elite post skillset was on full display. 

Brandan Wright of the Grizzlies led all players with 12 points in the first half. James Ennis III scored eight points to go with seven rebounds. 

Memphis opened the third quarter with eight unanswered points and a 14-4 run. The Sixers never got going in the third as the Grizzlies looked a lot hungrier on both ends. 

Wright, Andrew Harrison, Jamychal Green, and Dillon Brooks all reached double figures by the end of the third quarter. Memphis took an 86-72 lead into the final quarter. 

The fourth quarter – like the majority of this game – was all Grizzlies. The Sixers fans let the team have it, specifically camp signee Kris Humphries. Humphries was being booed every time he touched the basketball, and the boos got extremely loud after Humphries missed a wide open three. 

Humphries replacement was Emeka Okafor, who was received well by the Philly faithful. Okafor – who is a distant cousin of Jahlil – was stepping onto an NBA court for the first time since April 15, 2013 after a serious neck injury. Emeka's physique catches the eye, and his strength is very apparent when moving the opposing players around on the block. 

Despite the kind story, the entire second half was ugly and the Memphis Grizzlies cruised to a 110-89 victory.

Brandan Wright's 16 points led all players. Andrew Harrison – whose twin brother Aaron spent summer league with the Sixers – scored 14 points. JaMychal Green scored 11 and Dillon Brooks had 10. Wright also led all players with eight rebounds.

Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 14 points after a very promising showing from the former third round pick on the offensive end. Robert Covingotn (13) and J.J, Redick (11) were the only other Sixers in double figures. 

In 21 minutes Ben Simmons scored six points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out nine assists. Markelle fultz struggled from the field going 2-of-13 with one rebound and two assists in 22 minutes. 

The Sixers next preseason game will be on Friday when they host the Boston Celtics. 

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