Aussies in NBA: Simmons near triple-double fuels Philly to third straight win

Ben Simmons has fallen one assist shy of his second career triple-double, posting 19 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists as the Sixers outlasted Atlanta 119-109 in Philly.

The win marks Philadelphia’s third straight victory after prior wins over Houston and Dallas, and sees the team improve their record to an even 4-4.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the game is Simmons’ ability to score with continued ease. Entering the game, the young Aussie was second in the league in terms of total points scored inside the paint (96), trailing just Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (152) in the category.

Simmons opened his scoring account with a fluid looking jumper from the elbow then getting to the bucket with a crafty lay-up that saw him switch to his off-hand to finish mid-air. Back-to-back high-arching floaters in the third quarter added to his scoring versatility showcase before a thunderous jam in the closing stages of the game put an exclamation point on his, and his teams, big night.

Simmons ended the night shooting 8-16 from the field and is currently shooting 53% for the season. As Sixers reporter Kyle Neubeck recently noted on twitter, Simmons’ jumper looks as smooth as it ever has.

The rookie also contributed with his playmaking abilities, finding Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless in transition for wide open three-pointers in the first quarter as Philly opened up an early 25-8 lead. Simmons assisted Covington, who shot a red hot 6-11 from downtown, several times from distance throughout the game. With the game still undecided heading to the fourth quarter, Simmons found Bayless cutting to the lane and had a nifty drop-off pass to Joel Embiid who emphatically jammed through contact.

Despite opening up a 17-point lead early, Atlanta managed to fight their way back into the contest and take the lead in the second half before a 26-16 final quarter from Philadelphia saw the home team get back to .500 through the first two weeks of the season. Dennis Schroder lead the way for the Hawks, scoring 25 points and adding six assists while Taurean Prince contributed with 17 off the bench.

Philadelphia are back in action on Saturday when they take on the Indiana Pacers in Philly.