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Ben Simmons was smiling, joking, and enjoying himself. After warmups in his first game in Philadelphia in two-and-a-half years, he was taking selfies with fans.
Those 76ers fans were letting Simmons know how they felt about the player who struggled for their team in the biggest moments, then sat out a season and forced a trade out of town. They let him know from the opening introductions.
Simmons has shrugged it off, finishing the night with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting plus 11 assists, continuing his run of strong play. Simmons’ first points came at the free-throw line — a source of frustration when he wore a Sixers jersey — but he calmly sank both in the face of boos.
From there, he made some quality plans on both ends and even silenced the crowd.
Simmons handled his return well.
The rest of his Nets teammates did not. Facing a Philadelphia team without Joel Embiid (sprained foot), James Harden (right foot tendon sprain) and Tyrese Maxey left foot fracture the Nets struggled to get stops and trailed almost the entire game from the middle of the first quarter on. DeAnthony Melton (22 points including six 3-pointers), and B-Ball Paul Reed (19 points and 10 rebounds) stepped up, along with Tobias Harris, who scored 24. As a team, the Sixers shot 16-of-32 (50%) from 3.
Kyrie Irving scored 23, Kevin Durant 20, but the Nets reversed to their worst defensive form — they had been better under new coach Jacque Vaughn — and lost the game. This still looks like a flawed team.
There were bright spots for the Lakers — this was the gritty play Darvin Ham wanted to see from his team. Then there was Anthony Daviswho finished with a monster line of 37 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks — his fourth 30+ point, 15+ rebound game in a row.
But it ended on an ugly note, and not just the 115-105 loss to a superior Suns team.
With just fewer than four minutes to go, Devin Booker fouled Austin Reaves on a drive and knocked him to the ground. Deandre Ayton was standing over Reaves after the play when Patrick Beverley took exception, ran over and leveled Ayton from behind.
Obviously, that got Beverley ejected, and he can expect a suspension from the league. It was a cheap shot from behind — something Beverly has a history of doing — which the league office will take into consideration.
After the review, Booker was given a flagrant foul for the shot to Reaves face.
To a man, the Lakers had Beverley’s back after the game because they felt he had their back.
Good news for the Grizzlies — Ja Morant is back.
Expected to miss weeks with a Grade 1 ankle sprain, he missed one game before returning to the court and putting on a show with 34 points.
It wasn’t enough against the hottest team in the NBA right now. De’Aaron Fox scored 32, while Harrison Barnes had 26 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Malik Monk had 14 off the bench and shook off Morant’s attempts to intimidate him at the free-throw line.
The Kings won their seventh straight and have the best offense in the NBA over that stretch (second-best in the league for the season, using the NBA.com numbers). The Kings are 10-6, sit third in the West, and this is the most optimistic things have been in Sacramento in a long, long time. Light The Beam.
Check out more on the Nets
76ers fans heartily boo Ben Simmons, who shrugs it off and plays well Ben Simmons says ‘I know what’s coming’ in return to Philadelphia Joel Embiid out of 76ers next two games due to sprained left foot
Three things to know: Ben Simmons handles boos in return to Philly; Nets don’t originally appeared on NBCSports.com