Ben Simmons recorded his 36th double-double of the season, and the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets for their 11th consecutive victory Tuesday night from the Wells Fargo Center.
Simmons nearly amassed the double-double in the first half alone, recording 12 points and nine rebounds. The rookie finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, playing sparingly in the second half due to the eventual lead the 76ers built. Simmons has more than double the next closest rookie, Kyle Kuzma, has 17 double-doubles this season.
Despite Simmons being one of eight different 76ers to eventually score in double figures Tuesday night, the contest did not start well for Philadelphia. As a unit, the 76ers’ starters combined to miss their first five shots from the field. During that stretch, however, the Nets were able to produce just three points in the low scoring opening moments. Brooklyn’s Joe Harris alone missed his first five attempts from the field, all coming within the game’s first three minutes. He would, however, finish 5-11 shooting, picking up 13 points for the Nets.
Midway in the first quarter, it became the Ben Simmons show, as the rookie began his night 3-4 from the field. His efficient start was imperative, as the rest of the 76ers’ shooters starting just 2-7.
Eventually, it would be the Nets’ turn to go cold from the field, missing seven consecutive shots and failing to score for over three minutes of action. The 76ers used this shooting drought to their advantage, collecting 11 straight points, opening up a 28-22 lead. That similar score is how the first quarter would come to an end.
Out of the timeout, the 76ers pounced offensively again scoring the second quarter’s first five point, stretching their consecutive point run to 16, and extending their game lead to 11, 33-22. Continuing trends, the Nets were unable to find the bottom of the bucket for five full minutes, dating back into the first quarter, before Demarre Carrol knocked down a three to end the 76ers’ run. During that stretch, Ersan Ilyasova poured in six of his game 11 points, helping the 76ers grab their largest lead of the game thus far.
The Nets would battle their way back into the game midway through the second quarter, knocking down three consecutive three point shots, propelling them to a quick 9-2 run that cut the 76ers’ lead to 42-40. Brooklyn let from from beyond the arc in this one, connecting on all of their first ten baskets from three. They finished the first half 12-27 from three, and wrapped up the game attempting 42 triples, knocking down 17 of them.
After the Nets closed the gap, the 76ers would make one final push before halftime to secure their lead. Philadelphia scored 11 consecutive points and 18 out of the half’s final 24 to take a 12 point lead into the locker room, 61-49.
The 76ers came bursting out of the gate to begin the second half, scoring 11 of the third quarter’s first 12 points, extending their lead to 22 points, the largest of the night to this point. The efficiency that has become synonymous with the 76ers and their third quarters showed up again Tuesday night, as Philadelphia held Brooklyn just two made field goals over the first six minutes of the third quarter. The Nets scored seven points over that span, and forced themselves into turnovers at a a high rate. To this point, Brooklyn had turned the ball over 15 times, and would finish the game with 18 turnovers.
That third quarter jump enabled Head Coach Brett Brown to rest many of his starters midway through the period and into the fourth quarter. The aggressive start was something he spoke about postgame, giving credit to veteran J.J. Redick for the halftime spark.
“Our guys jump into third periods, for the most part,” Brown said. J.J. Redick brought up Detroit (whom the 76ers play Wednesday night), and how they were resting at the moment. Brown continued on Redick, saying he called out “The fact that we can jump on these guys(Brooklyn) and balance out the bench, and get those guys some minutes,” would be crucial for the back-to-back situation facing the 76ers.
While the 76ers began to pull away, one Net was intent on keeping pace against his old team. Nik Stuskas scored nine of the Nets’ first 13 points of the third quarter. He finished the evening with 13 points. He and the other former-76er, Jahlil Okafor combined for 28 points in the contest.
Despite the efforts of the former-76ers, Philadelphia took a 22-point advantage, 93-71, into the final quarter of play.
As has been the case lately, the fourth quarter seemed almost monotonous, as if both sides were simply going through the motions with the game well in hand for Philadelphia. The 76ers, despite resting most of their key contributors for the fourth quarter, outscored the Nets 28-24 in the final 12 minutes, securing the 121-95 victory over Brooklyn. Philadelphia is now 20-0 when holding opponents to under 100 points.
The win marks the first 11 game winning streak for the 76ers since the 1989-1990 season. It also is the first time ever that the 76ers have won nine consecutive games by double figures. They also improve to 17 games over .500 for the first time since April, 2001. With the win, the 76ers improve to 47-30 on the season, but remain a half game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, who dispensed of the Toronto Raptors 112-106 Tuesday night, for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers and 76ers will meet Friday night in a showdown for the three seed. With the win, the 76ers can finish no worse than the five seed in the East, as the sixth-seeded Miami Heat are five and a half game behind Philadelphia with only four games remaining on their schedule.
The 76ers do play between now and the Friday night matchup with the Cavaliers, as they’ll travel to Detroit to take on the aforementioned Pistons Wednesday night. Tip off is set for 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on 97.5 The Fanatic!
-By Tyler Zulli, producer and contributing writer for www.975thefanatic.com