Sixers-Bulls observations, best and worst awards: Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, optional defense

Ben Simmons had 13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and a steal in the Philadelphia 76ers’ win over the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center.
Ben Simmons had 13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and a steal in the Philadelphia 76ers’ win over the Chicago Bulls at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are my main takeaways and best and worst awards from the 76ers’ 127-108 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Thursday night’s home opener at Wells Fargo Center.

Five observations

 Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are establishing themselves as of the league’s dominant one-two punches through two games. On Thursday, Embiid attacked the rim and was a beast on the block when stationed down there. Meanwhile, Simmons routinely went full court with two things in mind: Go hard to the rim or hit somebody for an assist. The 6-foot-10 point guard also used his size post up smaller defenders.

— Sixers fans desperately want Markelle Fultz to succeed. The sellout crowd of 20,300 chanted for him to shoot the ball from mid-range and beyond whenever he touched the ball. They kept encouraging him even though he mostly shied away from their pleas for a good portion of the game despite being left wide open. The crowd erupted after he made his first career three pointer in the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand.

 As much as the crowd cheered him on, Fultz might needs to do other things to get more involved. That might enable him to stay on the floor against formable foes. Let’s face it. Sixers guards JJ Redick, Landry Shamet and TJ McConnell are better offensive options than him and the team plays better when they’re in the game. So he needs to try to become a defensive stopper and dive for loose balls.

— Shamet is benefitting greatly from playing with Simmons. The Bulls defenders all kept their eyes on Simmons in transition. That enabled Shamet to sprint unguarded to the three-point line. Simmons found him for easy wide-open three-pointers, and he converted four of them.

— Both teams had awful an awful shot selection, especially in the first half. The Sixers and Bulls kept jacking up shots. They weren’t aware of the time on the shot clock or the score. They’re only focus was to score quickly.

Best and worst

Best performanceSimmons gets this for the second straight game. The 2017-18 rookie of the year finished with his first triple double of the season and 13th of his career with 13 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, two blocks and a steal.

Worst performance: This was a tough one, but I had to give this to Cameron Payne. The Bull started at point guard in place of Kris Dunn, who was off due to the birth of his first child, a son. Outside of his five assists, Payne was the invisible. He failed to score a point while missing all four of his shot attempts. He graded out at minus-18, meaning the Bulls were outscored by 18 points while he was on the floor.

Best defensive performance: You have to give this to Embiid. The All-Star responded with four blocks two days after having his shot blocked four times in Boston. He also had a hand in Chicago rookie center Wendell Carter Jr. making just 4 of 10 shots.

Worst statistic: This goes to the Bulls making just 7 of 24 shots, 29.2 percent, in the third quarter. 

Best statistic: I have to give this to Philly making 27 of 30 foul shots, 90 percent.

Worst of the worst: The teams’ first-quarter defense or lack of first-quarter defense gets this. The Sixers and Bulls combined to shoot 63.2 percent as playing defense appeared to be optional.