PHILADELPHIA -- Just months removed from a season plagued by a much-scrutinized missing jumper, 76ers guard Markelle Fultz checked one box Thursday on the path back to regaining the scoring touch he showed in college: He drained his first career 3-pointer.
It took less than two games for the 2017 No. 1 draft pick out of Washington to flash a glimpse of his previous accurate shooting touch from deep when he knocked down a 3-pointer for a 20-point lead over the Chicago Bulls, bringing the Philly fans who were begging for his shot to fall all night out of their seats and the Sixers bench players to rise to their feet.
From early on, every time the ball would touch Fultz's hands, the wild Wells Fargo Center crowd would bellow "Shoot!" at the second-year guard, who struggled through a miserable rookie season that was abbreviated because of a right shoulder injury. Even when his shot would ricochet off the rim or clank off the glass, fans would cheer to encourage Fultz.
Fultz did not seem fazed by the crowd's reaction to his first regular-season 3-pointer, which came with just under 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter. He didn't even crack a smile as he backpedaled up the court with the Sixers up by 20.
He finished with 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting, going 1-for-3 from beyond the arc as the Sixers defeated the Bulls 127-108.
Asked after the game if seeing the ball swish through the net was a relief, Fultz hastily denied it before pausing and rethinking.
"Well, I mean, a little bit," he conceded. "I worked hard this summer. I shot 3s. I shot midrange. I worked on my game, so I was comfortable shooting it. I believed in it, and I thought it was going in, which it did. So it felt good."
Even though he was at the center of a thick media scrum, Fultz seemed at ease. He said he works on his shot extensively in warm-ups.
"I'm never afraid," Fultz said of shooting. "I worked hard this summer. Tonight I didn't make a lot of them, but I'm going to keep shooting. If I see an open shot, I'm going to go shoot it. That's what I work for. Tonight it didn't fall, but eventually it will. I am going to keep working. And if I see my teammates -- you know I've got great teammates -- I'm going to find them."
One of those teammates was Ben Simmons.
It took Simmons less than three quarters to notch his first triple-double of the season. The second-year point guard -- who posted 12 regular-season triple-doubles in 2017-18 -- finished Thursday's game with 13 points, 11 assists and 13 rebounds.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Simmons tied Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd and Norm Van Lier for the second-most triple-doubles through his first two NBA seasons.
"He's unlike any other player in the league with his ability to get to the rim," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said at the team's shootaround Thursday morning. "He's so dynamic with the ball at 6-foot-10, 6-11. He can finish with both hands. He's got that ball on a string with a really tight handle. So he's a problem."
The Bulls showed Simmons a variety of defensive looks, rotating Zach LaVine, Cameron Payne and Justin Holiday at different times. All three struggled. Simmons' night also included some flash, as he spun the ball around his back before setting up Robert Covington for a 3-pointer.
According to Simmons, he expects himself to put up triple-doubles regularly.
"I am supposed to be a floor general, find my guys, get to the rim, rebound the ball," Simmons said. "I am just comfortable out there."