After a fierce battle, the Philadelphia 76ers posted a 129-128 win against the Portland Trail Blazers, keeping their record perfect. It was Furkan Korkmaz who hit a clutch go-ahead three-pointer to give his team a one-point advantage with 0.4 seconds to go. Prior to this, the guests had a 21-point deficit, but managed to rally back and take a massive victory.
With 50.2 seconds to go, Al Horford dunked, and Philly went down to only one point, 124-125. In the next attack, CJ McCollum didn’t hit a three, and Mario Hezonja sent Ben Simmons to the foul line, expecting that the Australian might miss at least one shot.
But that didn’t happen, and the former Rookie of the Year sunk both shots, giving his team the first lead of the game with 10.1 seconds until the end. However, Anfernee Simons, the sophomore shooting guard from Portland, stunned everyone with a three-pointer 2.6 seconds before the buzzer.
Philly’s coach Brett Brown decided to go all or nothing and try to win, which eventually paid off after bringing in Korkmaz off the bench for that one final shot.
“We were working on that in practice. I knew that if I was open I would take the shot. That was my mentality when I was going in,” he said.
The Trail Blazers were ahead throughout the entire event. The opening period ended with the home team having a five-point lead, 32-27, but in the second, they slowly started pulling away from the 76ers. They’ve made a 15-0 run, which lasted for some two and a half minutes, taking a 60-45 lead and the control of the match.
Portland continued in the same manner, after the break, and when Damian Lillard made a three-pointer with 5:04 left in the third, hosts reached their biggest lead of the event, 93-72. But, as the end of the third sequence approached, they ran out of gas.
The 76ers delivered 10 unanswered points, making this contest tight again, and from that moment on, things became very intense at the Moda Center. Eventually, despite having a 125-118 lead with 3:25 to go, Portland couldn’t score more than three minutes, and the guests used this to make a big comeback and upset both the Blazers’ fans and players.
Al Horford had a team-high for Philadelphia, with 25 points. Big Al also added 7 assists and 5 boards, shooting 12 of 24 from the field. Tobias Harris delivred 23 buckets, 10 of 15 from the floor, and had 7 boards, while Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double, 18 buckets, 11 boards and 8 assists.
Josh Richardson had 17, Mike Scott 12, and Korkmaz 11.
“I didn’t know how to feel or how to act. It was the biggest shot of my career,” the Turkish international said.
On the other side, Lillard dropped 33 with 9 assists, shooting from behind the three-point line 8 of 12. Dame also assisted 9 times to his teammates. Rodney Hood had 25 buckets, while McCollum scored 16. Skal Labissiere ended the night with 16 off the bench, while Mario Hezonja posted a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.
“I think the way we lost sucks. Any time anybody hits a last-second shot, and puts you up against the clock, it’s a bad feeling,” said Lillard to the reporters after the game.
Portland faced big issues before this match, having to play without Hassan Whiteside. He was the only available center of the Blazers at the moment, as Zach Collins, Pau Gasol, and Jusuf Nurkic all have injuries and aren’t fit to play. Up next, the Blazers go to San Francisco to meet the Warriors on Monday.
The undefeated Philly faces the Suns on the same day, in Arizona.