Sport Basketball Ben Simmons back from injury and firing on all cylinders as 76ers down Nets

Ben Simmons back from injury and firing on all cylinders as 76ers down Nets

There was no stopping Ben Simmons after his return from injury. Photo: AAP/Reuters
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Joel Embiid has scored 33 points and Ben Simmons returned with 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a 124-108 NBA victory over the short-handed Brooklyn Nets.

Tobias Harris added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers, who have won five of six.

James Harden had 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Brooklyn, who were without stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Irving is day to day with a right finger sprain, and Durant is out for a week due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Simmons, reportedly an important piece of a potential Philadelphia-Houston trade that never materialised when Harden landed in Brooklyn last month in a blockbuster deal, played aggressively throughout after missing the last game loss to Portland with a tight calf muscle.

Simmons’ highlight was a steal and fast-break dunk over Tyler Johnson with 59 seconds left in the third quarter. Simmons finished with three steals and also copped a technical late in the third for taunting.

Embiid surpassed 30 points for the eighth time in nine games. The big man was questionable after landing awkwardly on his right knee against Portland but showed no ill effects of the injury.

Durant is expected to rejoin the Nets on Friday, coach Steve Nash said, having been pulled midway through Friday’s game against Toronto after someone he had interacted tested positive to COVID-19.

That didn’t sit well with Durant, who Tweeted his displeasure, or his Nets teammates, who expressed confusion and frustration.

Prior to the 76ers game, Nash discussed COVID-19 and NBA protocols in light of Durant’s situation. While acknowledging that this season has been a challenge, he is grateful to still be playing.

“Is it perfect? No, but nothing is this year,” Nash said.

“We have to do our best to navigate the pandemic. It’s tricky. That is what we all signed up for, to complete and execute this season. Get through it, and get through it as safely as we can.”