PORTLAND, Ore. — Kevin Durant did not mince phrases after watching Ben Simmons play the greatest recreation of his temporary Brooklyn Nets profession in Thursday night’s 109-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
“Incredible,” Durant mentioned after watching Simmons rating 15 factors, seize 13 rebounds and dish out seven assists in 32 minutes.
“I’m simply completely happy for him as a result of he is been making an attempt to get his type again, making an attempt to determine his rhythm. Tonight I believe he did a superb job simply speaking up, commanding the offense, commanding the crew on the defensive facet of the ball. He was unbelievable tonight. So we will preserve constructing on that and hopefully we’re in a position to get this subsequent one, however he managed the recreation and was in a position to get us again into it.”
After taking part in effectively in Tuesday night’s blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings, Simmons took his recreation to a different stage Thursday by attacking the rim when he received on the ground. More importantly, he confirmed no hesitation when the Blazers determined to make use of a “Hack-a-Ben” technique in the remaining minutes and ship him to the foul line.
Simmons, who went 3-for-4 from the line down the stretch, performed at the stage the Nets had been hoping to see since they traded for him simply earlier than final season’s February deadline.
“I really like these moments,” Simmons mentioned. “I’m not going to draw back. That was their plan. Obviously, it did not work. We had been in a position to convert a pair free throws, get some stops. Just preserve constructing. I like these moments.”
Simmons’ efficiency capped off the Nets’ greatest win of the season. Veteran swingman Royce O’Neale received a late tip-in simply earlier than the buzzer that sealed the win — and his first profession triple-double — and Yuta Watanabe additionally delivered 20 huge factors off the bench.
But it was Simmons who left teammates and coach Jacque Vaughn brimming with confidence after the recreation.
“It’s very encouraging,” Vaughn mentioned of Simmons’ efficiency. “Most minutes he is performed, actually responded effectively. … Kind of what we envisioned him doing every thing for us. The defensive versatility of guarding [Jusuf] Nurkic and in addition Damian Lillard. Lots of people cannot do this. And we are able to proceed to develop with him and perceive him, his recreation, how he advantages, with whom. It’s very encouraging.”
Vaughn mentioned the distinction for Simmons was that he is “simply feeling good” after lacking 5 video games due to a swollen left knee. Vaughn mentioned he had a easy message to Simmons coming into the recreation: “Play arduous.”
Simmons, who has struggled all season to seek out his rhythm, clearly took it to coronary heart after struggling all season to seek out his rhythm.
“I’m coming,” Simmons mentioned. “I’m getting there, man. It’s taking a bit little bit of time, however I received my very own again. My teammates received my again, my coaches.”
The Nets even have confidence in realizing that suspended guard Kyrie Irving may return as early as Sunday after lacking the previous eight video games due to a team-imposed suspension for “dangerous affect of his conduct” regarding a social media publish he made a few e-book and film that featured antisemitic concepts.
“It’s clearly an ideal win, and also you add any individual that gifted, that nice at the recreation of basketball again into your unit, we’re all wanting ahead to it,” Durant mentioned of Irving. “We’re taking part in a distinct model of basketball than we had been when he final performed. So I do know Coach [Vaughn] is wanting ahead to including simply one other weapon in our offense, and he is drawing up some superb performs for us, so I do know he is received some extra stuff up his sleeve for Ky.”