Aussie Ben Simmons starts as Brooklyn Nets demolish Bucks


Ben Simmons, whose NBA career has been marked by feud and periods of poor form, has produced his best game yet for the Nets.

Brooklyn’s home team turned in a withering performance to thrash the high-flying Milwaukee Bucks 118-100 and demonstrate once again why they are serious NBA title contenders.

The Australian earned rich praise from commentators as he finished just shy of a triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, three steals) in his 28 minutes on court in Friday night’s home game.

Appointed after Steve Nash was sacked in early November after a 2-5 season start, coach Jacque Vaughn deserves recognition for the turnaround which has made the Nets (21-12) a potent, cohesive force.

They are on their longest winning streak since moving to Brooklyn a decade ago after an eighth straight victory, which came two days after they scored 91 first-half points in a demolition of defending champions Golden State.

Pedal to the metal

“We just want to keep it up,” Nets guard Kyrie Irving said. “We don’t want to take our foot off the gas pedal.”

There were plenty of early-season doubts about Simmons, on return after missing all of last season after things turned sour with the Philadelphia 76ers.

But his strong defence, ball-handling and close-range scoring are proving big assets.

Kevin Durant again led the way with 24 points while centre Nic Claxton added 19 and Irving had 18.

The Bucks (22-10) depended heavily on superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (26 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists), centre Brooke Lopez (23 points) and guard Jrue Holliday (18).

Boomers veteran Joe Ingles went scoreless from fours shots in 17 minutes in his third game back from a knee reconstruction for Milwaukee, who dropped to second in the Eastern Conference standings after the Celtics’ 121-109 win over Minnesota in Boston.

Another Aussie hoopster

In Oklahoma City, Josh Giddey came up against fellow Australian young gun Dyson Daniels and produced a double-double but his Thunder (14-19) were beaten 128-125 by New Orleans after overtime.

Giddey had 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while Shai Gilegeous-Alexander top-scored with 44 points. Daniels was scoreless in 15 minutes off the bench but the Pelicans (20-12) had seven players scoring 10 or more points.

Denver and Memphis kept a game clear of the Pels at the Western Conference summit with wins improving both to 20-11.

Jamal Murray had 25 points and a season-high 12 assists, Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 11 assists and the Nuggets beat the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 120-107.

The Grizzlies recorded a 125-100 triumph over the Suns in Phoenix thanks to 24 points and 11 rebounds from Jaren Jackson Jr.

Elsewhere, Luka Doncic scored a season-high 50 points and Dallas held off West rivals Houston 112-106, while the East’s No.4 side Cleveland (22-12) were surprised 118-107 at home by Toronto.


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