Sixers summer league

3 observations after Bona blocks 5 shots, summer Sixers lose at the buzzer 

The Sixers fell at the buzzer in their second summer league contest.

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The Sixers suffered a buzzer-beating defeat Tuesday night to drop to 1-1 in the Salt Lake City summer league. 

Jaylen Wells’ put-back floater just before the final horn lifted the Grizzlies to an 87-85 victory.

Wells scored 27 points. Jeff Dowtin Jr. led the Sixers with 18 points and six assists. 

The Sixers’ third and final game in Utah will be Thursday at 9 p.m. ET vs. the Jazz. They’ll begin play in the Las Vegas summer league on Saturday.

Here are observations on their tight loss to Memphis:  

Dowtin the vet surrounded by youngsters  

Following an 0-for-6 game from three-point range in the Sixers’ summer-opening win over the Thunder, Jared McCain broke his long-range ice with two straight fast-break jumpers. Not surprising at all that a player with his shooting ability nailed a pair right away. 

McCain didn’t have the same success from two-point territory, going 3 for 10 from the floor in a 12-point, four-assist performance.

As a team, the Sixers started 5 for 6 from three-point range and took an 18-point lead late in the first quarter. Dowtin went 3 for 4 from beyond the arc on the night and played another good game. 

Credit to the 27-year-old guard for being the quintessential summer league vet — hitting shots, running the offense, and generally decreasing the usual chaos level of July basketball. 

Rookie wing Justin Edwards had a nice evening, too. The one-and-done Kentucky product scored the Sixers’ first five points on a mid-range jumper in transition and a catch-and-shoot three off a McCain drive and kick. Edwards recorded 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Bona swinging away for blocks 

Adem Bona had a rough moment when he faked a dribble handoff, tried a sneak-attack drive, and got the ball stripped from his hands. Later, the 21-year-old center was whistled for a clear-cut moving screen. Bona won’t be an offensive hub anytime soon, but he’ll hope to develop his decision-making and skills when the ball comes to him at the top of the key. 

His night wasn’t short on positive moments, though. In the second quarter, Bona ran a two-man game with McCain, rolled to the hoop, drew a foul and made both his free throws. He shot 6 for 6 at the foul line.

On the other end, last season’s Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year deterred and altered plenty of shots in the paint. He also blocked five.

Bona will want to curb his fouling a bit in the NBA, but Sixers head coach Nick Nurse — who’s been watching courtside in Utah — endorses his players “taking swings” at blocks. Bona is a big man who will do just that. 

No fourth-quarter magic this time 

Ricky Council IV couldn’t replicate his 29-point performance vs. OKC that featured a 19-point fourth quarter.

The Grizzlies appeared to be focused on limiting his clean looks and Council made some mistakes trying to muscle through tight defense. He was 2 for 9 from the field with four rebounds, three assists and three turnovers.

Like Council, David Jones showed he knows how to draw free throws and grab rebounds. He posted six points, 10 boards and three steals.

Jones racked up 21.8 points per game last year at Memphis, but the rookie is prone to tunnel vision with the ball in his hands. Our very early impression is that he’ll need to be a high-level shooter to open doors for himself in the NBA. Jones took a major leap in that regard during the 2023-24 season, shooting 38 percent from three-point range after converting only 28.4 percent of his triples over his first three years in college.

Keve Aluma was productive again as the Sixers’ backup center and is now 12 for 14 from the floor two games into summer league. Aluma played well for much of the fourth quarter, but he seemed to be fatigued by the middle of the period and committed a bad, out-of-control foul on a corner three by Wells.

McCain came up just short on a go-ahead three-point try of his own with about 70 seconds left. Despite missed jumper after missed jumper, the Sixers’ defensive effort was strong down the stretch. Ultimately, they fell a fraction of a second shy of forcing overtime. 

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