By Harvey Hoffman

The Nets lost to the Sixers 137-133 last night and fell to 2-5 since Kevin Durant sprained his right MCL.

As the New York Post says:

They desperately need to get Ben Simmons in gear, for the short and long haul. The crowd booed his every touch, and probably would have booed his every breath if they could. Such is the city’s hatred of Simmons after he requested a trade last season in the wake of a deteriorating relationship with Joel Embiid, and got dealt to the Nets in exchange for James Harden.

But the Nets didn’t lose because of Embiid. He was largely outplayed by Nic Claxton, who had a career-high 25 points on 11-for-12 shooting, while adding 11 rebounds. Embiid and Claxton even went face-to-face and got double technicals late in the first quarter.

The Nets also didn’t lose because of their former star, Harden. They lost because of a sloppy second quarter from which they never recovered. They were outscored 34-24 in the second and never took the lead again.

And they also lost because Simmons, despite finishing with 12 points, five boards and five assists, was terrible for the first two quarters and largely was planted on the bench for the fourth.

Despite holding Embiid to an inefficient 26 points on 6-for-18 shooting, the Nets trailed by 17 in the third quarter and were still down 116-102 in the fourth before pulling even with an 18-4 blitz. They tied it at 120-120 on a Seth Curry 3-pointer with 4:06 left, but they ran out of gas and conceded an 8-2 mini-spurt by the Sixers that proved a bridge too far.

“It is what it is. That’s coach’s decision. I can’t really control that. Obviously for myself, I want to be out there,” said Simmons, who was largely benched late in wins at Utah and Golden State as well. Why? “I really haven’t had no message from [Vaughn]. But I think it’s more just wherever team needs to win. If we’re winning I have no problem with it, but if we’re losing then I’ve got an issue with it.”

After Simmons had a scoreless first half, he scored 10 points in the third. He finished the night a wretched minus-16.

“Just don’t lose confidence in him and look him eye-to-eye and just hold him accountable,” Irving said. “We don’t want to duck anything when it comes to us building camaraderie. When I say duck, it just means sometimes confrontation’s good.”

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