76ers get a Furkan game winner to survive Lillard Time and stay undefeated

The Philadelphia 76ers found themselves down two points on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers with 2.2 seconds left to play. Prior to the timeout, the 76ers lost their only lead of the game as Portland All-Star point guard Damian Lillard took advantage of the fear that “Lillard Time” taught us by driving from the 3-point line to the rim and finding second-year reserve guard Anfernee Simons alone in the left corner.

Simons’ 3 off a “Dame Time dime” gave the Trail Blazers a 128-126 lead, one possession after two clutch Ben Simmons free throws officially erased a Portland lead that was as large as 93-72 with 5:04 left in the third quarter. Out of the timeout, Simmons found backup shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz in the short corner, and Korkmaz rewarded the 76ers with a rainbow 3 that gave the 76ers the last lead of the game with only 0.4 seconds left.

The interesting element of Korkmaz’ game winner was how similar it was to a play Brett Brown ran in the 2018 postseason. Simmons was the inbounder on that play against the Boston Celtics as well, as he found Marco Belinelli for a field goal that would have won the game for Philadelphia if he was behind the 3-point line. Instead, Belinelli’s shot was worth only two points, which was mildly embarrassing considering the confetti that fell inside Wells Fargo Arena. The Celtics would ultimately win that game in overtime, and win that Eastern conference semifinals series in five game.

But this time, Korkmaz executed the play to perfection, getting his feet behind the line. It was Korkmaz’ first career go-ahead FG in the fourth quarter of a game, and it allowed the 76ers to remain the only undefeated team in the NBA at 5-0. This was also despite Lillard absolutely cooking the 76ers for a game-high 33 points, including 8-of-11 on 3s, while Philadelphia All-Star center Joel Embiid served the first of his two-game suspension for Wednesday night’s altercation with Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns.

Embiid will serve the final game of his suspension Monday while the 76ers take their undefeated record on the road against the Phoenix Suns. Korkmaz’ 3 also culminated the end of the largest deficit overcome by Philadelphia since coming back from 24-point deficit against the Heat on Feb. 14, 2018; Philadelphia ended the game on a 57-35 run in the last 17:04 of the game. For that, the wing formerly known as “Dunk Vader” got to ring the postgame victory bell.

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