Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs | That's two career 3s for Simmons, who also hit a fadeaway jumper on Saturday


                        Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs

Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs
Ben Simmons hits another 3-pointer, ties career high with 34 points as Sixers decimate Cavs
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Years after the Sixers tanked their way to drafting him in the first place, Ben Simmons is undergoing his own kind of process as an actual real-life NBA shooter. After not making a single 3-pointer through his first two years in the league, or really any kind of jump shot for that matter, Simmons got Sixers fans excited with summer videos showing him draining shot after shot in pick-up games. 

On Nov. 20, Simmons finally hit the first 3-pointer of his career. It came against the Knicks, which feels so fitting in so many ways. Anything -- and I mean anything -- is possible when the Knicks are involved. 

Now, it's happened again. On Saturday night, Simmons cashed in from the corner for the second 3-pointer of his career during the Sixers' 141-94 annihilation of the Cavs. 

Say what you want about Simmons, to this point in his career, being gun shy or even shooting with the wrong hand, but that shot looks comfortable. It looks repeatable, at least given that much space. It's a slow grind, obviously, but every time Simmons hits a perimeter shot, especially a three, it's going to be a big deal because shooting is the only thing holding him back from being one of the best players in the world. 

Simmons also hit this nice fadeaway off one foot on Saturday:

That's not a conventional jumper, and Simmons has at least shown flashes of being halfway comfortable in this range in the past, particularly when fading away. But it's still progress, if only from a confidence standpoint. Because that's all this is. Confidence. Simmons isn't going to turn into Klay Thompson, but he can clearly shoot a basketball from a functional standpoint. It's just a matter of willingness. 

Simmons' offense has been so-so overall this season. His unwillingness to shoot is still a huge problem for the Sixers' spacing, and one shot doesn't change that. But he's getting there. Simmons tied a career-high 34 points against Cleveland on Saturday, and all season long his defense has been exemplary. 

Most importantly, the Sixers are 16-7. They're not playing great. The top of the East is a lot better than the perception. But Philly is right there, and if Simmons can slowly add a even a few jumpers to his arsenal here and there, I still think they'll be right there with the Bucks as the best team in the East come playoff time. 

Knicks show signs of life in 1-point loss to Pacers

Knicks show signs of life in 1-point loss to Pacers

NEW YORK -- Julius Randle missed a free throw with 0.1 seconds left, sending New York to a 104-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night in the Knicks' first game since firing coach David Fizdale.

The Knicks were much more competitive under interim coach Mike Miller than they had been in recent games under Fizdale, who was fired Friday. They chased after rebounds and loose balls throughout the fourth quarter, erasing an 11-point deficit and giving themselves a shot at overtime when Randle was fouled while trying to put back the rebound off a scramble.

He calmly made the first free throw but the second was well long, sending New York to a ninth straight loss and a 4-19 record.

T.J. Warren scored 25 points and Domantas Sabonis had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Pacers. They bounced back from a loss at Detroit on Friday.

The Knicks lost by 44 and 37 in their last two games under Fizdale and he was fired Friday after running practice. The Knicks offered no details about the decision in their press release announcing the firing, and team executives didn't speak Saturday.

Players responded with a good effort in the first game since the change but couldn't overcome their 40.6% shooting.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Sabonis, who had a 12-for-12 shooting game here last season, made his first five and finished 8 for 11. ... Malcolm Brogdon sat out with an injured right hand.

Knicks: Keith Bogans was added to the staff as an assistant coach after previously serving as an assistant for Westchester. The Knicks also fired assistant Keith Smart on Friday. ... G Wayne Ellington missed the game with a sore left Achilles tendon.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host the LA Clippers on Tuesday.

Knicks: Visit Portland on Tuesday to open a four-game trip.

Simmons hits 3, scores 34 as 76ers rout Cavs

Simmons hits 3, scores 34 as 76ers rout Cavs

PHILADELPHIA -- Ben Simmons hit his second career 3-pointer and scored a career-high 34 points, and the Philadelphia 76ers didn't need Joel Embiid's help to rout the Cleveland Cavaliers 141-94 Saturday night.

Simmons made 12 of 14 field goals, including his only 3-point attempt, and hit 9 of 12 free throws to help Philadelphia improve to 11-0 at home.

Embiid sat out with a left hip contusion.

Darius Garland had 17 points for the Cavaliers, who have lost six in a row and 12 of 13.

Philadelphia has been projected to be an NBA title contender, but the 76ers haven't been able to consistently field its starting five of Simmons, Embiid, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. They have started only nine games together due to injuries and Embiid's two-game suspension for fighting Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns.

The 76ers needed little more than Simmons in a dominant first half that ended with them ahead 77-36.

Simmons attacked the basket often and showed off a rarely seen midrange game when he drained an 11-foot jumper with 6:04 left in the second quarter. That had 76ers fans cheering, but it was just an appetizer for Simmons.

With 3:41 left in the half, Simmons took a cross-court pass from Trey Burke and knocked down a 3 from the left wing, his second this season after going 0-for-17 during his first two seasons. That sent the sold-out crowd into a frenzy, and the roars continued when Simmons finished an alley-oop dunk from Burke on Philadelphia's ensuing possession.

Simmons received a standing ovation at the next stoppage.

Simmons finished the tremendous four-possession sequence with assists on Philadelphia's next two trips, first to Horford for a 3-pointer and then to James Ennis III for a jumper.

Finally, Simmons ended the first half scoring with a 9-foot jumper for a 41-point lead entering the break.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland set a season low for points in a half, worse than the 40 the Cavaliers scored against Orlando on Dec. 6. ... Cleveland's previous largest margin of defeat this season was 42 points, 143-101 at Dallas on Nov. 22.

76ers: Richardson (right hamstring tightness) missed his fifth straight contest. He'll also sit out Sunday's game against Toronto and then be re-evaluated. ... Philadelphia improved to 3-2 without Embiid. ... Simmons hits his first 3-pointer Nov. 20 against the Knicks. His previous career best in points was 32, set Feb. 22, 2018 at Chicago. ... Matisse Thybulle injured his right ankle in the first half and didn't return.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: At Boston Monday night.

76ers: Host Toronto Sunday night.

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