Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons heard the noise.
He can’t shoot. He can’t play in half court. He’s an overrated superstar with a crippling flaw in his game.
On Thursday, he provided his answer — a dominant, dunk-filled show in a 131-115 win over the Brooklyn Nets to take a 2-1 lead in their opening-round playoff series.
It was a star performance from a team that needed one after it found out All-NBA center Joel Embiid would not play with a lingering knee injury.
Simmons scored a career playoff-high 31 points to go with 9 assists and 4 rebounds.
The big game was preceded by a barrage of noise coming his way from Nets fans and players. This one was personal.
Simmons’ ‘Missing’ jumper
Before the game, a “Missing” sign with Simmons’ mug shot was seen hanging on a pole outside Barclays Arena.
“Have you seen his jumper?” the sign read, trolling the 76ers point guard over his notorious jump shot.
📸 “Missing: Ben Simmons jump shot” hanging outside of Barclays Center prior to Game 3. pic.twitter.com/pC94WF8eAs
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) April 18, 2019
Simmons’ shooting woes
Simmons is one of the game’s most dynamic young players, a 6-10 point guard who’s a constant triple-double threat who can score seemingly at will around the basket.
He also has one of the game’s worst shots, a knuckleball that usually clangs off the rim and serves as no threat to defenders.
He shoots 60 percent at the free throw line and has a grand total of zero made 3-pointers over 17 attempts in his two-year NBA career. It’s a glaring hole in his game.
Jared Dudley called Simmons out
It’s the type of liability that prompted Nets forward Jared Dudley to call Simmons “average” in half court situations after the first two games of the series.
“I think Ben Simmons is a great player in transition, Dudley told Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday. “Once you slow him up in the half court I think he’s average. He’s a player that when he picks up speed he’s a load so you have to [send] guys with him. It’s taking away his easy baskets.”
So did fans
Nets fans let Simmons know how they felt about him in the first minute of the game.
Simmons’ emphatic answer
Simmons heard the boos. He probably caught wind of the “missing” poster. He definitely heard what Dudley had to say about him.
When J.J. Redick missed a 3-pointer at the end of the first half, he had an answer for all of it with an emphatic putback dunk as time ran out that prompted some preening as the 76ers took a 65-59 lead into halftime.
The message was clear. Who needs a jump shot when you can do this?
It was a marquee moment for Simmons on a night that belonged to him.
He wasn’t the only 76ers player to step up in Embiid’s absence. Tobias Harris logged 29 points and 16 rebounds while hitting all six of his 3-point attempts. J.J. Redick hit 5-of-9 3-pointers en route to 26 points.
For Brooklyn, D’Angelo Russell and Caris Lavert each scored 26, but the Nets couldn’t muster enough help elsewhere to topple the short-handed 76ers.
Dudley’s scoreless performance in 16 minutes off the bench certainly didn’t help.
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