NBA

Simmons after career night: Scary to think what I can do

By Sports Desk February 16, 2021

Ben Simmons believes his potential is "scary" after scoring a career-high 42 points against the Utah Jazz.

Playing at center in the absence of Joel Embiid for the Philadelphia 76ers, Simmons converted 15 of his 26 field goals, adding 12 assists and nine rebounds in a fantastic performance.

Utah still won the game 134-123 to make it 19 wins from 20.

Despite playing in a third straight loss, Simmons believes the record night shows he has made huge strides over recent weeks.

"I feel like I'm figuring it out," Simmons said after the game.

"Obviously, my scoring has been a lot higher the past five, six games.

"As long as I can keep doing that and stay locked in and keep working on my mental [game], I think it's scary.

"You have got to keep your foot down. Keep pushing forward offensively with me. Stay dominant - I know what I'm capable of.

"It felt good that I was able to dominate offensively. Defensively I did okay, not great. Offensively, I definitely had to pick up the slack especially if Joel is out. So yes [it was probably my most aggressive game].

"I loved when I saw Rudy [Gobert] was guarding me. I love being able to go at somebody like that. I felt like it was a little bit disrespectful to put him on me, but it is what it is.

"Honestly, I've just been working on my mentality and mental [game] a lot these past few weeks.

"It's not easy to do that. Your mindset will change the way you play or certain things in the game that come natural for certain people. It is all mental.

"People don't realise your mentality is a huge part of the game. For me I continue to work on that. I'm just trying to get better and progress my game and get to that next level.

"But we wanted to get this win bad. We didn't get it, so we've got to move on."

Getting Simmons matched up with Gobert was exactly what coach Doc Rivers had in mind, while he also praised Tobias Harris for a 36-point display.

Rivers said: "I didn't know we were going to get the 42 points out of him! But he did everything - he guarded, did a good job. Played with pace.

"We anticipated once Joel scratched that the lineup that we put on the floor, we were trying to create a lineup where Gobert would guard Ben and that happened.

"The key for us was getting stops and getting it to Ben and getting up the floor. We just felt like there was no way anybody was going to stay with Ben, especially a center.

"Tobias [Harris] was phenomenal as well. Look at those two guys, man!

"Harris has to be straight line, aggressive and powerful. When he plays like that, he's hard to deal with. He played a very decisive game and had very few indecisive plays.

"He is really keeping the game simple, playing with great force, scoring from the three[-point line], off the dribble and the post. He's doing exactly what we believe he can do.

"[Embiid] was just a late scratch. They came to me and told me his back is still stiff. So I don't think this is a long term issue or anything like that. It's just a game missed."

The Sixers are still top of the Eastern Conference at 18-10 and host the Houston Rockets next on Wednesday.

Jordan Clarkson scored 40 points off the bench for the impressive Jazz, who lead the Western Conference with an NBA-best record of 23-5.

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    Joel Embiid took on his critics after a stunning display helped the Philadelphia 76ers edge the NBA-leading Utah Jazz after overtime.

    Embiid hit a game-tying three-pointer with 5.3 seconds remaining to force OT and finished the game with 40 points and 19 rebounds as the 76ers earned a 131-123 win.

    He dominated against Rudy Gobert, in a duel between two players likely to be fighting for end-of-season honours, and was quick to aim a jibe at a local reporter.

    Keith Pompey, of the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently noted how Embiid had missed a number of head-to-heads with top-class centers.

    Embiid showed he was fearless up against Gobert, a fellow Defensive Player of the Year contender.

    "First of all, according to Keith Pompey I'm scared of [Gobert] and I'm afraid of top centers," Embiid said in a post-game news conference.

    "Man, as we saw tonight it looks like I was very, very scared of them, so yeah, keep talking.

    "But going up against them, one of my goals is to also be Defensive Player of the Year."

    Embiid is now averaging 11.6 rebounds and 30.2 points per game this season, while the Eastern Conference-leading Sixers improved to 24-12 for the season.

    Gobert had nine rebounds and 12 points.

    "When you go against those type of guys, he's a great player, he does a lot of things that don't show up on his stat-sheet," Embiid said.

    "When you go against those guys, he brings something else to the rest of my game. I want to dominate, on the offensive line but mainly on the defensive line because that's the goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

    "Those are the matchups that you want to go out there and just dominate, and prove to everyone that we have a great team and individually that you should be up there when it comes to those rankings, so hopefully that came through."

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    Wednesday's results

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    Philadelphia 76ers 131-123 Utah Jazz (OT)
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    Atlanta Hawks 115-112 Orlando Magic
    Charlotte Hornets 135-102 Minnesota Timberwolves
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    Sacramento Kings 123-120 Los Angeles Lakers

     

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