US goes wild over Simmons surprise
BEN Simmons tried to put his shooting woes to bed with a dagger against New Orleans but it was a swing and a miss for the Aussie NBA star before he redeemed himself in typically awesome fashion.
A couple of minutes into Philadelphia's nailbiting 111-110 win over the Pelicans the 22-year-old received an inbounds pass and strolled up to the three-point line. Normally so keen to drive inside the paint or find a teammate with a clever assist, Simmons wasted no time getting stuck in himself.
He rocked up and shot from beyond the arc under no pressure, only for the ball to bounce off the rim.
It would have been the first three-pointer of his NBA career had it landed, but it wasn't to be.
Still, Simmons made lemonade from those lemons as he regathered the loose ball, charged towards the basket and after hitting the underside of the backboard with his first lay-up attempt, came good on his second effort and added another two points for the 76ers.
Simmons has been haunted by a shooting deficiency most pundits agree is the one chink in his armour preventing him from reaching the next level. He's survived until now without an effective jump shot but knows it's a string he'll eventually have to add to his bow.
And he won't get a better chance to practice in match conditions than against the lowly Pelicans, who sit outside playoff contention in the Western Conference with a grim 27-34 record.
Social media lit up when Simmons took aim from downtown, celebrating the effort if not the result.
OH SIMMONS TRIED IT.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) 26 February 2019
Ben Simmons attempts another legitimate NBA triple, it was a miss, but we know Sixers fans have to be happy with the progress. He turns the miss into a bucket, though. pic.twitter.com/sC1KzZHqLo
Despite the early knock to his confidence Simmons went on to dominate the first quarter, scoring eight points and scooping up six rebounds as the Sixers established a 31-24 lead.
He showed even though his shooting is out of sync, he doesn't need to try from distance because he's so good close to the basket.
That much was obvious in a silky play during transition when he evaded his man with a behind-the-back move before finishing with a bucket.
Simmons was just as brutal in the second quarter, notching his 34th double-double of the season as he ended the half with 11 rebounds and 12 points.
His best move came midway through the quarter when he schooled Anthony Davis with a show-and-go inside the paint.
At half-time the 76ers were up 65-52 and it was much of the same in the third quarter as Simmons and Co. maintained a 10-point buffer to lead 93-83 heading into the final stanza.
New recruit Tobias Harris was the Sixers' shining light, piling on 26 points to go with seven rebounds and three assists.
But they suffered an almighty scare as New Orleans came storming home in the final quarter to almost snatch the win from under Philly's nose. Fortunately for the Sixers they managed to hold on for the one-point victory.
Harris finished with 29 points while Simmons had 14 points, 12 rebounds and two assists.
Ben Simmons attempts a three early!!!!!! Missed but I LOVE IT! #SixersOutsiders— Krystle Rich (@KrystleRich) 26 February 2019
That is PROGRESS!— Dave Loughran (@Loughy_D) 26 February 2019