All the need-to-know info from Monday night’s slate.
Markelle Fultz finally took the pause off the Process against the Nuggets on Monday, playing for the first time since October 23. Five months of rehabbing his mysterious shoulder injury (and shaking his probable yips) (and fixing his etiolated jump shot) (and knowing Brett Brown’s open lack of confidence in him being ready) shepherded Fultz here to his fifth-ever career game. He wasn’t on a minutes restriction; sitting out seemed to have far more to do with him getting his shooting form right in the end than shoulder pain.
Fultz came off the bench (just happy he actually came off of the bench) toward the end of the first quarter, then again later in the game. His first trip down the court resulted in a turnover, though he quickly followed it up with a dime, a drive to the basket, and finally, the moment 154 days and many grainy, out-of-focus, cross-court Twitter videos have led to: Markelle took a jumper.
But Fultz' first jumper.... airball. pic.twitter.com/v46hegyHm3— David Wade (@davidwade) March 26, 2018
When he re-entered in the third, Fultz’s performance gave Philadelphia a collective sigh of relief. His court vision was sharp, his confidence kicked in, and he found teammates with ease. Chants of “We want Fultz!” drove Brown to give the guard another go with three minutes remaining in the game. That worked out well for the rookie:
He paired that with another swished jumper on the following play. Fultz finished with 10 points, eight assists, four boards, and just the one turnover in 14 minutes.
Markelle Fultz is the first player to score 10+ points and dish 8+ assists in 15 minutes or less since ... Danny Ainge, who is connected to Fultz in all sorts of other ways.— Zachary Kram (@zachkram) March 27, 2018
For a hyped (promising? promising!) rookie in front of Philly fans, that might as well be the same thing.
The Cheat Sheet
- Guess the line: 42 points and 12 assists in 40 minutes. (If you came in blindly to say Trey Burke, you’re lying.) But it happened! In New York’s 137-128 overtime loss to Charlotte, Burke scored the most points by a Knick all season and outdid everyone except for Kemba Walker, who put up a lesser 31 points but took the controller at the end of regulation and again in OT.
KEMBA CLUTCH— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) March 27, 2018
overtime in Charlotte! pic.twitter.com/qaXKPMHT43
- Denver fell to Markelle Fultz’s Sixers, 123-104. Now 40-34, the Nugs are still ninth in the West. Philadelphia’s win put the Sixers just a game back of Cleveland for the 3-seed.
- The Minnesota Timberwolves fell to a team that lost to the Hornets by 61 points four days prior. The tanking Grizzlies resistantly handed Minny a 101-93 loss. Memphis is miraculously 2-0 in the season series, and the two have a final matchup in the second-to-last game of the season. The Wolves’ 42-33 record gives the Jazz the seventh seed, while Minnesota falls to eighth. Send me a Google Calendar invite whenever you guys are free for the intervention.
- Isaiah Thomas was not with the Lakers in Detroit for their 112-106 loss, and he might not be back for some time. He traveled to New York searching for other medical opinions on his lingering hip issues, which caused him to miss L.A.’s previous game against the Grizzlies.
- The good news: Marcus Morris delivered without Marcus Smart (thumb) or Kyrie Irving (knee), dropping 20 points off the bench in 23 minutes on 6-for-8 shooting against Phoenix in the Celtics’ 102-94 win. The bad news: Morris left the game early with a sprained ankle. There’s been no update on the severity, but with both Smart and Irving sidelined until at least the playoffs, the Celtics need Morris’s offense (and his ankle) more than ever.
Play of the Night
Marco Bellinelobbi, hello: