HomeViralNets' Ben Simmons: Triple-Delight Returns in Epic Comeback Game!

Nets’ Ben Simmons: Triple-Delight Returns in Epic Comeback Game!

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After a three-month layoff, Ben Simmons had no issues re-acclimating to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. The three-time All-Star provided an instant spark during a 147-114 blowout versus the Utah Jazz, posting 12 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists and zero turnovers on his way to a plus-27 in 18 minutes.

The Nets, who had posted a 5-17 record over their last 22 games entering Monday, looked revitalized with their point guard back on the floor. After missing 38 games due to a nerve impingement in his back, Simmons checked in midway through the first quarter and immediately led a 20-6 run. He posted six assists in his first four minutes, becoming the first Net in the play-by-play era (since 1996-97) to record six dimes off the bench in an opening period.

“I told them as soon as we checked in. Like, they know what time it is,” Simmons said. “I think certain guys know what it’s like to play with me and where their shot’s going to come from. So for us, it’s easy. It’s just about sharing the ball and playing the right way.”

Nets’ offense explodes

It’s no coincidence Simmons’ return coincided with one of Brooklyn’s best offensive performances of the season. The Nets recorded 41 assists, marking the 12th time in franchise history they’ve reached 40 in a game and just the third time since 2000. They made over 20 threes for the third time this season with Simmons orchestrating the transition offense.

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The Nets ranked 25th in fastbreak points (12.0 per game) during their 5-17 stretch. They scored 28 versus Utah.

“It’s always a fast break when I have the ball,” Simmons said. “Not many teams are ready for a team that’s pushing the ball every single time down the floor, you know? So it gets guys cross-matched, different matchups that you want for us offensively. And then just reading the defense and seeing what they’re gonna give us.”

Eight Nets reached double figures during the win. Mikal Bridges scored a game-high 33 points on 12-of-24 shooting, while Cam Thomas paced him with 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Lonnie Walker dropped 19 off the bench, and Cam Johnson chipped in 17.

“Other people played so well tonight because of the impact of Ben Simmons. It’s that simple,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “The looks that we got tonight, the amount of threes that we got tonight, the fast break points that we got tonight, the pace that we played with… You just see how he impacts other people. He makes other dudes better.

“And he likes doing that. When you get a guy that wants to do that on a nightly basis, it’s infectious. And so just the ball movement tonight, he was the reason for that. And the way it was sprayed around — 40 sum assists tonight, like, you can’t ask for anything more, especially with the time that he’s missed.”

While Simmons’ immediate production after an extended absence could come as a surprise, he was impactful in his six games to open the season. The 27-year-old’s transition ball-handling and facilitation were at the center of an offense that had scored the NBA’s second-most fastbreak points before his injury.

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Ben Simmons’ injury return for Nets

Simmons’ nerve impingement, which was the lower left side of his back, was the latest of several recurring injuries that have sidetracked his career, in addition to mental health issues. After sitting out the entire 2021-22 season, the Aussie played in 42 games last season before being shut down due to a nerve impingement in the right side of his back.

He worked through a seven-month rehab period in preparation for this season. Despite suffering another setback just two weeks in, Simmons is confident the work he’s put into his body has put him in a position for sustained success.

“People don’t see the work that goes in behind the scenes,” he said. “It took a lot of effort and patience and time to get back to where I’m at now. Every single day, every morning, every day, I’m working to get back on the floor. It’s not online, you don’t see that. For me and everyone that has seen that and seen my discipline over the last two months, it’s great to see it pay off.”

Despite Simmons’ high-level showing, the question remains: can he stay on the floor for an extended period? The answer could determine if the Nets can make a playoff push this season and whether the former number-one pick has any legitimate chance at revitalizing his NBA career.

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