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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists and Joel Embiid had 30 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past the Chicago Bulls 127-108 on Thursday night.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points in their season opener.
The curious case of Markelle Fultz continued against the Bulls when one of the more scrutinized players in the NBA managed to steal the spotlight from his more accomplished teammate with simple jumpers.
Fultz had open looks early and 76ers fans exhorted him to “Shoot! Shoot!” each time he touched the ball as the second-year guard tries to overcome his aversion to jumpers.
He found the look he wanted 3 minutes into the second quarter. Fultz dribbled to the foul line and hit an uncontested pull-up jumper, the ball rattling around the rim four times before it plopped through the net for two points.
76ers fans erupted in cheers as they gave him a standing ovation and chanted “Fultz! Fultz! Fultz!”
Yes, a simple jumper from the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft in the second game of the season was enough to get a rise out of the fans — and a sigh of relief from Fultz.
Fultz got a similar reaction when he buried a 3-pointer in a preseason game, after not attempting one last season. Fultz suffered from a right shoulder injury, a broken shot and busted confidence in his rookie season. Even his personal shooting coach said Fultz suffered from the “yips,” which was shot down by his star client. Fultz blamed his lost season on the injury. Sixers coach Brett Brown tried to give Fultz a confidence boost by putting him in the starting lineup — yet benching him for the start of the second half.
Fultz was 1 of 6 in 15 minutes in the first half and didn’t play again until late in the third and the Sixers leading by 88-68.
“The challenge is to grow him and help us win the game,” Brown said. “There’s no book that tells you how to do that, so you’re going to have to figure some stuff out. There will be some pain along the way and some positives.”
With or without Fultz, the 76ers had plenty of positives after an opening-night disaster in Boston.
Simmons hit a triple-double with 2:34 left in the third, the 13th of his career and the first Sixer to ever get one in the home opener. Sixers fans chanted “Trust the Process!” when Embiid ended the third with free throws.
Fultz proved a long-range ace again in the fourth — this time with a 3! He drained his first career 3-pointer for a 108-88 lead and the Philly fans that are firmly perched in his corner went wild and again chanted his name.
The Sixers know that if they want to become legitimate Eastern Conference contenders, Fultz will have to become the star they envisioned when they drafted him. He made five baskets and scored 12 points.
Bulls: G Kris Dunn missed the game for the birth of his son. … Bobby Portis had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
76ers: Rapper Meek Mill sat courtside and rang the ceremonial Liberty Bell to start the game. … Embiid thanked the fans for coming and told them to “Trust the Process.”
1ST Q & NO D
Embiid scored 12 points in the first 5 minutes of the game and neither team missed many looks in the first quarter. The Sixers made 11 of their first 14 shots and the Bulls started 14 of 19. The 76ers shot a whopping 70 percent in the quarter and still trailed the Bulls 41-38.
Bulls: Play home opener Saturday against Detroit.
76ers: Host Orlando on Saturday.
(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)