April 19, 2019 / 3:04 AM / a month ago

Simmons pours in 31 as 76ers down Nets

EditorsNote: Fixed misspelling on ‘minutes’ in 9th graf; Made tweaks in 12th graf

Apr 18, 2019; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) drives against Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris (12) during the first quarter in game three of the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Simmons scored a playoff-career-high 31 points and handed out nine assists to lead the visiting Philadelphia 76ers past the Brooklyn Nets 131-115 on Thursday in New York for a 2-1 lead in an Eastern Conference opening-round playoff series.

Simmons, whose wayward shooting was the subject of a “Missing” poster outside of Barclays Center during pregame, made 11 of 13 attempts from the field and 9 of 11 from the foul line.

Tobias Harris also scored a playoff-career-high, adding 29 points to go along with 16 rebounds, and JJ Redick added 26 points for Philadelphia.

Sixers center Joel Embiid was scratched before the game due to left knee soreness. Greg Monroe, who signed late in the regular season, received the emergency start in place of Embiid and contributed nine points and 13 boards.

The Sixers were 8-10 without Embiid during the regular season.

Caris LeVert and D’Angelo Russell each scored 26 points for the Nets, who played their first home playoff game in four years.

Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday at Brooklyn.

Monroe made an immediate impact in place of Embiid with five points and four rebounds as the Sixers bolted to a 32-24 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Nets were sloppy with the basketball and committed five turnovers in the opening 12 minutes.

LeVert scored 19 points in the second, including the Nets’ first 14 points of the quarter. However, the Sixers responded thanks in large part to three 3-pointers from Harris, and Philadelphia took a 65-59 advantage into the locker room.

Redick hit three treys in the first five minutes of the third and the Sixers pushed ahead 81-67.

The 76ers’ suffocating defense continued throughout the third until a late 9-0 run by the Nets to end the period, giving Philadelphia a 97-90 lead after the quarter. Spencer Dinwiddie scored six late points — a four-point play and a tough driving layup — to keep the Nets within striking distance.

Russell knocked down a difficult trey and the Nets closed within 105-99 with 8:37 remaining in the game.

Slideshow (16 Images)

Harris eventually hit his sixth straight 3-pointer, and the Sixers soon pulled ahead 114-103 with 5:45 left.

Simmons threw down a vicious dunk for a 121-106 lead with 4:21 remaining. It was the seventh consecutive made field goal by the Sixers.

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