Philadelphia's perfect run continues

PORTLAND • The Philadelphia 76ers overcame both the absence of Joel Embiid and the hot-shooting Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night to remain the only unbeaten team in the National Basketball Association so far this season.

Furkan Korkmaz's three-pointer with 0.4 second left lifted the Sixers to a 129-128 road victory, their fifth win this season.

Anfernee Simons' shot from beyond the arc with 2.6 sec remaining appeared to have been enough for the hosts, but Damian Lillard missed at the buzzer as the Blazers lost all their two games at home.

Both teams were without their starting centres. Embiid began a two-game suspension for his role in a scuffle with Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns last week. The Blazers' Hassan Whiteside sat out with a sore left knee.

Portland led by 21 points midway through the third quarter, only to have Philadelphia close to within three points three times early in the fourth quarter and twice down the stretch.

While the Blazers shot 57.7 per cent from the field and made a season-high 55.9 per cent (19 of 34) from long range - Lillard had a game-high 33 points - the Sixers had success in the paint with Al Horford pacing his team with 25 points before Korkmaz's winning basket.

Having gone 5-0 for the first time since the 2000-01 season, Embiid was quick to celebrate the victory on social media, tweeting: "What a comeback! Let's keep rolling."

Although back-up guard Korkmaz was lost for words after making the "biggest shot of my career", teammate Ben Simmons, who contributed 18 points, told reporters he trusted him "to make shots when it comes down to it".

"He works hard every day, he's a great competitor and a great player, the Australian guard said. "I'm not surprised, I'm just happy that he had the opportunity."

Separately, Giannis Antetokounmpo flirted with a triple-double as the Milwaukee Bucks beat defending champions the Toronto Raptors 115-105 in the first meeting between last season's Eastern Conference finalists.

The reigning Most Valuable Player later said he had "a little bit extra juice" after pouring in 36 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dealing eight assists.

"I had a lot of motivation, but obviously, a different team. Kawhi (Leonard) is not on the team, but (other) guys have stepped up," the Greek forward told ESPN. "Just the team that cost us the trip to the NBA Finals, you're gonna come out and play a little bit harder."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2019, with the headline 'Philadelphia's perfect run continues'. Print Edition | Subscribe