"Fultz! Fultz!" and for a fleeting moment he thought they were serenading Philly's most popular athlete.
"Then I realized it, and it was pretty dope".
"He's the smallest guy on the floor, but I have said it from Jump Street, he has the biggest heart out there every single night and that is what makes him so great". "I get goosebumps telling you all that". Rookie guard Markelle Fultz returned to action against the Nuggets, recording 10 points, while dishing 8 assists coming off the bench.
The first selection of the 2017 draft shot an airball, had three shots blocked and artfully attacked the lane, flashing glimpses of what has made him both a mystery project and prominent prospect.
Fultz has played in just four games this season due to what can best be described as some combination of a shoulder injury and possibly the shooting yips.
Fultz was on a media blackout in his absence and said nothing in his public return to clarify his situation.
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According to reporters, he ignored any queries about the shoulder.
"Just look at what he's been through", Brown said. Wiped his face with a towel.
Why not talk about the injury?
"It was his decision", Coach Brett Brown said. "Tonight is not really an outlier, it's been sort of progressive".
Fultz played about 15 minutes, in the 123-104 win over the Nuggets, which is right around the minutes Brown had in mind for him. Colangelo added that the team would likely seek out additional "garbage time" opportunities. "I'm not sure I have the answer. Knowing what I know and seeing what I've seen, and understanding how special that kid is from a human being standpoint, it's a good day".
Fultz entered the game with 2 minutes 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter to thunderous applause at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and, after turning the ball over on his first trip up the court, he settled down and scored his first points since October with an easy layup. But Fultz - whose awkward shooting form made him a punchline in the National Basketball Association - fired an airball later in the quarter.
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So, he played, played well but not flawless (one airball and three blocked shots), but most importantly-he survived. But the improvement has come without any help from Fultz. "Once I stepped on the floor, it felt great just to be back out there with my brothers". Burke tried to keep pace (six points on 3-of-4 shooting) but didn't have enough.
Fultz shot 5-of-13 from the field, including this nice pull-up jumper late in the game. The 6-foot-4 guard out of Washington just may have a significant impact after all in the postseason.
The Sixers players were similarly happy with the rookie's return.
Philadelphia fell behind by eight points at half-time, but charged ahead in the third quarter, outscoring Denver 34-15. Paul Milsap chipped in 16 points.
Sixers: Waived G James Young.
For the Nuggets, Will Barton led the way with 25 points followed by Jamal Murray with 17 points.
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