Ben Simmons opens up about Nets return, rest of season's potential

Ben Simmons' first Nets game since Nov. 6 saw him shake off the rust immediately and make an impact across the board. He nearly notched a triple-double with 10 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists in his 18 minutes off the bench during Monday's 147-114 win over the Utah Jazz.

"People don't see the work that goes in behind the scenes," said Simmons, who played six games to start the season before going down with a back injury. "It took a lot of effort and patience and effort and time to get back to where I'm at now. Every single day -- every morning, every day -- I'm working to get back on the floor and it's not online. You don't see that. So for me and everyone that has seen that, my discipline for over the last two months, it's great to see it pay off."

Simmons' all-around ability is an element that the struggling Nets (19-27), who have won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 23 and 26 against the Detroit Pistons, welcome as they look to get their season back on track.

"Ben doesn't want to be hurt," said head coach Jacque Vaughn. "He didn't want to be hurt. He was playing good basketball at the beginning of the year for this team, and we were in a lot of close games at the beginning of the year. He wants to play -- I'll say that to the world or whoever. He wants to play. He wants to play here. He has the ability to impact a team. For him to get a chance to do it tonight and with a win -- just impressive effort."

Beating the Jazz (24-24) brings the Nets even with the Atlanta Hawks at 19-27 for the Eastern Conference's 10th seed. Eight games, starting with Wednesday's matchup against the Phoenix Suns and Kevin Durant, remain before the All-Star break.

"I think we can be really good, if we do everything we need to do," Simmons said. "But that takes time and focus and dedication, from front office to the last guy on the bench to the training staff to coaches. So it's a team effort, and I think we can get there if everyone buys in."