By Michael Bennett
So, Ben Simmons, what have you done for us lately??!!
The Sixers beat the Detroit Pistons 97-86 Monday as Simmons supported Joel Embiid’s 30-point effort by piling up a triple double —21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
For historical context, Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson also accomplished the feat in 1960!
“We played the right way,” Simmons told NBC Sports Philly after the Sixers improved to 1-3 with the Houston Rockets next up tonight at the Wells. “I’m just happy we got our first one. … I had fun.”
Simmons, the top overall pick in the 2016 draft, missed all of last season while recovering from a broken foot. He is averaging 17 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists through the first four games, and has at least a double-double in all of them.
Embiid, limited to 31 games as a rookie last season by a bad knee, shot 11 of 15 Monday while engaging in a duel with Detroit big man Andre Drummond.
“Defensively, he doesn’t play any defense,” Embiid told Philly.com. “When we started the game, he was being aggressive and he was talking, too. … So what I was like (in my mind) ‘You want to do that? I’m going to kick your (butt) then.’ So that’s what I did.”
The Rockets are 3-1 despite shooting just 27.5 percent from 3-point range, which ranks 29th in the NBA. They were just 9 of 38 from beyond the arc in Monday’s 98-90 loss to Memphis, a game they led 86-75 with 7:29 left.
“We just got stagnant,” guard James Harden told the Houston Chronicle. “Our bodies weren’t popping and moving like we normally do. We didn’t make shots, obviously. They played pretty good defense, obviously, but we just didn’t have pop.”
Eric Gordon, who has been starting with Chris Paul idled by a bruised left knee, scored 27 points Monday and Harden added 22.
“We were up the whole game,” Gordon told the Chronicle. “We made a couple mistakes, played a little lackadaisical. Us as players, we just need to step forward and do better. They put pressure on the ball-handler. It was almost like one-on-one. We had it going early. We just didn’t sustain that good effort toward the end of the game.
“That shows us we can do better. We’ll get there.”
The Chronicle reported that Paul, who suffered his injury in last Wednesday’s season-opening victory at Golden State, could be out as long as a month.
“It’s only a bump,” coach Mike D’Antoni told that outlet. “It’s not a tear or something like that. It’s a bruise. We just have to make sure he’s 100 percent the next time he plays.
“I don’t think there’s (concern.) All indications are he should be OK.”
Sixers center/forward Richaun Holmes has yet to play this season after breaking a bone in his left wrist in an Oct. 6 preseason game. Philly.com reported at that point that he was expected to miss three weeks.
Guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick, is averaging just 6.0 points on 9-of-27 shooting. He is apparently dealing with right shoulder soreness.