PHILADELPHIA – The night began with whistles for Ben Simmons.
The night ended with whistles for the 76ers and applause from the wandering Nets believers after the arena cleared.
Kevin Durant summed up the best just seconds after lifting the podium after Thursday’s game – a convincing victory over the 76ers with a score of 129-100, which again legitimized the Nets as bright conferences and contenders for the championship.
“For a start, the conditions were good. It’s not over. There was no (enemy) when we left the court, ”Kevin Durant said after the game. “It’s hard for you to chant to Ben Simmons if you lose so hard.”
Philly’s fans booed Simmons, a former Sixers star who joined the Nets in the James Harden trade, every time he was seen: when he entered the team’s hotel after the bus arrived in Philadelphia; when he assisted Patty Mills during the warm-up before the game, and when he came out of the locker room in a black and yellow hockey jersey to join his team on the bench as a spectator for Thursday night’s match.
These whiskeys may have influenced Simmons, who smiled at times when fans gushed, but they had the opposite effect on the Nets, who rallied around their Australian star to achieve the most dominant performance in the second half of the season.
“I think playing for Ben that night meant something to Ben,” Kyrie Irving said after the game. “We all felt it. We are all there. … When you come to Ben, you come to us. You attack someone on our team, you attack all of us, and that’s the mentality. “
The Nets ignored theatrical performance and quickly worked with the new look of the Sixers, increasing as many as 36 on the road to a major victory. It was the most focused game the Nets have demonstrated since the blockbuster deal that rolled down their list in the middle of the season, and they won two straight wins after their proper win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.
“I think it’s great for our confidence,” head coach Steve Nash said. “We had such a difficult part with injuries and we tried to put it together and build some kind of cohesion and understanding. It’s nice to have two games in a row where you play well and the ball hits the basket. It brings everyone together a little bit and gives relief and confidence in what we are trying to do. ”
The Nets joined forces on a haystack in the first quarter, and the Sixers never recovered. In the first quarter, “Brooklyn” scored 40 points, and in the second period played 17 points. The Nets neutralized James Harden, who scored just 3 of 17 shots off the field and missed 11 of the first 12 shots. Poor shooting was typical of Harden in games he struggled to get to the free throw line. Nash said repelling harmful throws had already been a topic of attention for the Nets, but all the more so given Harden’s cunning and deception.
However, in many ways it was a typical performance for Harden, who struggled at the start of the season struggling to find his resentment in the face of changes in NBA rules regarding fouls on shots, and find a hit in recent days in Brooklyn.
In his last three games against the Nets before the exchange, Philly Byrd has scored just 2 of 11 against the Sacramento Kings, 6 of 19 against the Phoenix Suns and 4 of 13 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. His game against the Nets was for him the worst since he joined the Sixers. It was also Philly’s first loss in a game he and Joel Embid played after an exchange. Before the defeat of the Nets in such games, the “Sixers” led 5-0.
“(Only) two free throws tonight for (Harden), 3-on-17 (off the field), tried to get to the rim, but I think we all rushed there,” Durand said of defending his former teammate. . “If he gets to the rim, goes down, gets to the free throw line, then it’s hard for him to stop, and we’ve eliminated a lot of that – 3 on 17, 11 points, that’s a great formula for us to win.”
As the sounds piled up in the direction of the Sixers, Nets fans stepped up their singing to their team. 76ers fans left the arena at the beginning of the fourth quarter when it became clear that no heroism would save their team. Meanwhile, Nets fans hung out and relentlessly chanted “Brooook-lynnnnnn” in a completely empty arena.
These fans also surrounded Durant at the top of the tunnel leading to the locker room as he walked off the floors of the Wells Fargo Center after the game.
“Our fans traveled,” Durant said. “It was very interesting to see Brooklyn fans because it is written on us that we have no fans. So to hear them in such a huge arena as this one, fighting against other energetic crowds like Sixers fans, was interesting to see. ”
“I’ve been seeing this more and more in the last couple of years when I’m here. Fans are starting to travel more and more to support us. ”
Durant, Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry scored 25 of the Nets ’first 26 points and together scored 71 that night. At one point the trio scored 44 points against 42 in Philly.
And think: at some point Simmons will leave the bench and on the floor to join the players who have just been reduced to ashes by his former teammates. That makes the win a lot sweeter for the Nets: they just solved the third session of the Eastern Conference, and they did it without their third best player.
“I think Ben is special because of the different things he does on the floor, from jumping in defense, facilitating and scoring points,” Nash said after the game. “So I want him to play differently and be a challenge for other teams in different aspects of the game.”
Thursday’s win moves the Nets just two games away from the Toronto Raptors and ranks 7th in the Eastern Conference. They also have the fourth easiest schedule in the NBA, and when the game at Philly is now behind, Simmons is expected to overcome back pain, get in shape and join the rotation in the coming weeks.
However, even without Simmons, even without Joe Harris (retired for the season due to ankle pain) and even without Lamarcus Aldridge (thigh) the Nets proved to be the best team on the mile. Joel Embide scored 27 points, but inflicted all his damage from the foul line when alone in the first half he scored 15 of 19 off the field. The Nets sent doubles to Embiid and rushed at him every time he touched the ball, forcing him to attack from field 5 of 17.
Meanwhile, the Nets scored 56% on the team and 45% from the depths, showing 25 points from Durant, 24 from Curry and another 22 from Irving. They also kept the Sixers under 120 points for the first time in any games that Harden and Embid played together.
Although Thursday’s win was dominant for the Nets, it’s only one score in the win column. Brooklyn is still fighting a tough battle: they remain at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoffs, still in need of a “Twisted Mary” to avoid a game tournament at the end of the season.
However, with Irving, Durant and Curry, the Nets proved to be more than able to deal with the enemy of the Eastern Conference of the top four.
“We get better, we get used to playing with each other,” Curry said. “We have a lot of veteran guys, a deep team, a lot of guys who get together in a short amount of time, play together and make it easier for everyone else. It’s a more ordinary game of the season, but it’s a big step. “