PHILADELPHIA — The night time started with boos for Ben Simmons.
The night time ended with boos for the 76ers, and cheers from the touring Nets devoted after the sector cleared.
Kevin Durant finest summed the swing just some seconds after taking the rostrum following Thursday’s recreation — a landslide, 129-100 victory over the 76ers that re-legitimized the Nets as convention juggernauts and championship contenders.
“It was surroundings to start out. It didn’t end that means. It didn’t really feel (hostile) once we left off the court docket,” Kevin Durant mentioned postgame. “It’s exhausting so that you can chant at Ben Simmons once you’re shedding by a lot.”
Philly followers booed Simmons, the ex-Sixers star who joined the Nets within the James Harden commerce, each time he was seen: When he entered the staff resort after the bus arrived in Philadelphia; when he assisted Patty Mills throughout pregame warmups, and when he emerged from the locker room sporting a black-and-yellow hockey jersey to hitch his staff on the bench as a spectator for Thursday night time’s rivalry recreation.
These boos could have impacted Simmons, who smiled at occasions when the followers poured on, however they’d the other impact on a Nets staff that rallied round their Australian star to string collectively their most dominant efficiency of the second half of the season.
“I believe taking part in for Ben on this night time meant one thing to Ben,” Kyrie Irving mentioned postgame. “All of us felt it. We’re all there. … When you come at Ben, you come at us. You come at anybody else on our staff, you come in any respect of us, and that’s the mentality.”
The Nets ignored the theatrics and made fast work of the new-look Sixers, main by as many as 36 en path to a blowout victory. It was essentially the most centered efficiency the Nets have put forth within the aftermath of the blockbuster deal that uprooted their roster mid-season, they usually have gained two straight since their get-right victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.
“I believe it’s nice for our confidence,” mentioned head coach Steve Nash. “We’ve had such a tough stretch with accidents and making an attempt to place this factor collectively and construct some cohesion and understanding. It’s good to have two video games in a row the place you play effectively and the ball goes within the basket. It brings everybody collectively a bit bit and places reduction and confidence in what we try to do.”
The Nets linked on a flurry of first-quarter haymakers, and the Sixers by no means recovered. Brooklyn hung a 40-point first quarter and took a 17-point lead into the second interval. The Nets neutralized James Harden who shot simply 3-of-17 from the sphere and missed 11 of his first 12 pictures. Poor capturing has been typical of Harden in video games he struggles to get to the free throw line. Taking foul pictures away had been an space of emphasis for the Nets already, Nash mentioned, however much more so given Harden’s artful and misleading historical past.
But in lots of respects, it was a typical efficiency for Harden, who struggled each to search out his offense initially of the season within the face of the NBA’s rule modifications on capturing fouls and to discover a capturing contact in his closing days in Brooklyn.
The Beard shot simply 2-of-11 towards the Sacramento Kings, 6-of-19 towards the Phoenix Suns and 4-of-13 towards the Minnesota Timberwolves in three of his final video games towards the Nets earlier than the commerce to Philly. His recreation towards the Nets was his worst since he joined the Sixers. It additionally marked Philly’s first loss in a recreation each he and Joel Embiid have performed in because the commerce. The Sixers had been 5-0 in such video games earlier than the loss to the Nets.
“(Solely) two free throws tonight for (Harden), 3-for-17 (from the sphere), tried to get to the rim however I believe we had been all there swarming,” Durant mentioned of the protection on his former teammate. “When he’s attending to the rim, getting downhill, attending to the free throw line, that’s when he’s powerful to cease and we eradicated a number of that stuff — 3-for-17, 11 factors, that’s an excellent formulation for us to win.”
Because the boos piled within the Sixers’ path, Nets followers intensified their chants for his or her staff. 76ers followers exited the sector early into the fourth quarter when it grew to become clear no degree of heroics would save their staff. In the meantime, Nets followers hung again and chanted “Brooook-lynnnnnn” relentlessly in an all-but-empty area.
These followers additionally surrounded Durant atop the tunnel resulting in the locker room as he walked off the Wells Fargo Middle flooring after the sport.
“Our followers traveled,” mentioned Durant. “It was fairly exceptional to see Brooklyn followers as a result of the label on us is that we don’t have any followers. So to listen to them in an enormous area like this, preventing towards one other energetic crowd just like the Sixers followers, it was thrilling to see.”
“I’ve been seeing it increasingly more the final couple of years now that I’ve been right here. Followers are beginning to journey increasingly more to help us.”
Durant, Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry scored 25 of the Nets’ first 26 factors and mixed for 71 on the night time. At one level, the trio had scored 44 factors to Philly’s 42.
And to assume: In some unspecified time in the future, Simmons shall be off the bench and on the ground becoming a member of the gamers who simply lowered his former teammates to ash. It makes the victory that a lot sweeter for the Nets: They simply unraveled the Jap Convention’s third seed, they usually did it with out their third-best participant.
“I believe Ben is particular due to all of the various things he does on the ground, from protection rebounding, facilitating and scoring,” Nash mentioned postgame. “So I would like him to play in a number of alternative ways and be an issue for different groups in a number of sides of the sport.”
Thursday night time’s victory strikes the Nets simply two video games behind the Toronto Raptors for the No. 7 seed within the Jap Convention. Additionally they have the NBA’s fourth-easiest remaining schedule, and with the Philly recreation now behind him, Simmons is anticipated to beat his again soreness, get in form and be part of the rotation within the coming weeks.
But even with out Simmons, even with out Joe Harris (out for the season with ankle soreness), and even with out LaMarcus Aldridge (hip), the Nets proved the higher staff by a mile. Joel Embiid scored 27 factors however did all of his harm from the foul line, the place he shot 15-of-19 from the sphere within the first half alone. The Nets despatched doubles at Embiid and rushed him each time he touched the ball, forcing him right into a 5-of-17 capturing night time from the sphere.
In the meantime, the Nets shot 56% as a staff and 45% from deep, that includes 25 factors from Durant, 24 from Curry and one other 22 from Irving. Additionally they held the Sixers to lower than 120 factors for his or her first time in any video games Harden and Embiid have performed collectively.
As dominant of a victory as Thursday night time was for the Nets, it’s just one mark within the win column. Brooklyn continues to be preventing an uphill battle: They continue to be on the backside of the Jap Convention playoff image, nonetheless in want of a Hail Mary to evade the end-of-the-season play-in event.
But with Irving, Durant and Curry, the Nets proved greater than able to dealing with a top-four Jap Convention foe.
“We’re getting higher, we’re getting used to taking part in with one another,” mentioned Curry. “We acquired a number of veteran guys, a deep staff, a number of guys who in a brief period of time are coming collectively, taking part in collectively and making it simpler for everybody else. It’s extra of a daily season recreation nevertheless it’s an enormous stepping stone.”