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Nets’ Ben Simmons booed as Sixers spoil his Philadelphia return

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PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons shrugged off the boos that rose out of the Philly crowd every time the mercurial guard dealt with the ball.

The Nets guard even egged on followers another time over their reception towards one of many extra loathed former Philly stars in sports activities historical past.

“I assumed it was going to be louder,” Simmons stated.

Tobias Harris scored 24 factors and a spirited Philadelphia 76ers workforce enjoying with out Joel Embiid and James Harden spoiled Simmons’ homecoming with a 115-106 win over Brooklyn on Tuesday night time.

“I really feel like this can be a enormous win for us,” Harris stated. “I knew going into the sport we had been all going to come back out with any such vitality and any such buzz to rise up to play.”

There was loads of buzz from the time the doorways opened in anticipation of Simmons’ return. He had 11 factors, 11 assists and 7 rebounds to the tune of regular boos. Simmons even had a late-game fade acquainted to the Sixers. He did not take a shot, was scoreless within the fourth quarter and scored solely two factors within the second half.

Kyrie Irving scored 23 factors and Kevin Durant had 20 earlier than coach Jacque Vaughn pulled his beginning lineup with three minutes left within the recreation.

“Everyone needs to see our workforce fail,” Durant stated. “No person likes Ben. No person likes Ky. No person likes myself.”

The anticipated marquee matchup was dimmed with Embiid out with a sprained left foot, Harden nonetheless out with a tendon pressure in his proper foot and beginning guard Tyrese Maxey additionally out with a damaged left foot.

Embiid vs. Simmons must wait.

Simmons vs. 76ers followers was fairly good.

Simmons was heckled, drew a flagrant foul, shushed a sellout crowd of 20,184 on a layup, and even Jordan-shrugged after hitting free throws. Of most significance for a participant who has battled psychological well being points, Simmons performed with poise as boos rained on him for the majority of his 32 minutes.

“I really feel like I am in a superb place,” Simmons stated. “I am comfortable. I do what I like. To be on the market and having that have was superb.”

He already had three assists when he went to the free-throw line early within the recreation. Simmons was booed however by no means seemed rattled and sank each baskets. Simmons had a reverse layup minutes later for his first bucket.

Sixers followers had been largely well-behaved — save for a few short-lived profanity-laced chants — and largely saved the four-letter phrases for tape on the again of their previous No. 25 jerseys.

Simmons and second-year Sixer Georges Niang tussled late within the first half, and Niang gave his former teammate a lightweight stiff-arm to the physique that earned a technical foul.

Harden could not imagine the decision from the bench. Sixers proprietor Josh Harris seemed appalled.

Simmons missed the technical free throw, and the group roared as a lot because it did all recreation. Simmons, although, hit the court docket for a steal and knocked the free ball to Durant for a bucket.

The Sixers nonetheless took a 63-57 lead into the break.

It wasn’t all jeers, all recreation. Simmons did make 76ers followers go wild over him when he missed consecutive free throws within the second half and triggered a free fast-food rooster promotion.

“I assumed he was in assault mode, he was aggressive, confirmed a variety of poise by way of the course of the night time,” Vaughn stated. “The expertise to get by way of and get it behind him, actually good.”

Simmons averaged 15.9 factors, 8.1 rebounds and seven.7 assists over 4 seasons with Philadelphia, which drafted him out of LSU, the place he performed just one season. His omnipresent complications, reminiscent of his refusal to shoot past 15 ft, outweighed his in any other case gifted defensive and playmaking abilities. Simmons’ relationship with the Sixers deteriorated following the 2021 playoffs and he demanded a commerce.

Simmons made a shock return to the Sixers shortly earlier than final season opened however was promptly kicked out of shape and suspended for one recreation. The punishment did not matter; the No. 1 choose of the 2016 draft by no means had any intention of enjoying.

Simmons hugged Rivers within the handshake line and met with family and friends sitting on the baseline earlier than he headed for the customer’s tunnel — and one last refrain of boos.

“I believe it may be like this perpetually,” Simmons stated. “I actually do not see it altering.”

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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