Nets ‘motivated’ after Ben Simmons’ best game with Brooklyn

Ben Simmons smiling next to Damian Lillard’s white jersey

Ben Simmons‘ Controversy and disappointment have dogged his short tenure with the Brooklyn Nets.

Once a perennial All-Star with the 76ers, the 6-foot-10 guard was anything but with the Nets. But in the last few games something seems to have clicked with Simmons and his teammates.

After reported “frustration” within the organization surfaced, Simmons had the best game of his Net career in Brooklyn’s 109-107 win Thursday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Simmons scored 15 points while posting 13 rebounds and seven assists. It was the 26-year-old’s first double-double since 14 June 2021.

“It’s very encouraging,” the Nets coach Jacque Vaughn he said of Simmons’ performance after the game. “Most minutes he played, he responded well. There were a few combinations with Nic [Claxton], that’s Nic, pushing the basketball as a showman… the kind we imagined, doing everything for us. If we can continue to grow with him, understand him, his game, how he benefits, who he’s with, it’s really encouraging.”

Simmons has dealt with a number of health issues in his time as a Net, including a back injury that started while with the 76ers. He is now dealing with a sore left knee that has sidelined him for five of the Nets’ first 15 games.

Vaughn indicated that the difference he sees from Simmons is that he is “feeling good.” The knee injury kept him out of the Nets’ game against the Lakers on Sunday, but Vaughn praised Simmons for putting in the work to get right and get back on the floor.

“I had back surgery, which is not easy to come back from,” Simmons said of his quest to return to All-Star form. “I’ll stay locked in. I stay focused and continue to build myself, my body and my game.”

A colleague Kevin Durant dropped 35 points to lead Brooklyn’s scoring, but after the game he was visibly excited, not for his own accomplishments but Simmons’ game.

“Unbelievable. I’m just happy for him because he’s trying to get his form back, trying to get his rhythm out” said Durant. “Tonight I think he did a good job just talking up, commanding the offense, commanding the team. on the defensive side of the ball. He was incredible.”

He added: “This is the kind of game we needed to see. We expect that from him every night.”

After back-to-back 10-point games, Simmons was asked afterward if he was proud to remind the rest of the series what he could do.

The three-time All-Star smiled and said, “I’m coming. I’m going there, it’s taking a little time. I found my own back. ​​​​My teammates got my back, my coaches.”

The Nets’ next game is against Sunday Yes Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. With Kyrie Irving expected to return, and a revitalized Simmons, Nets fans could finally see their new Big Three on the floor at full strength.

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