Ben Simmons sets NBA free-throw record after Wizards go full 'Hack-a-Shaq'

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The main (and perhaps only) knock on Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons is his shooting.

With his rare combination of size, speed and handles, he can get to the rim with relative ease, but outside of 10-or-so feet, he has his struggles shooting the ball. That extends to the free-throw line, too. Entering Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, the 6-foot-10 Simmons was shooting just 57 percent from the line.

Trailing by double-digits late in the ballgame, the Wizards aimed to take advantage of that.

The Philly lead was 84-65 entering the fourth and 93-78 with 7:23 to play. At that point, Simmons came back into the game to help the Sixers close things out. But in an effort to close the gap, Wizards coach Scott Brooks — with NBA commissioner Adam Silver (who does not trust the process, by the way) in the house — employed the ol’ Hack-a-Shaq, or in this case the Hack-a-Ben (Simmons, not Wallace), intentionally fouling Simmons no matter where he was on the court.

When the dust settled, Simmons attempted an NBA-record 24 free throws in the fourth, making just 12 of them. While Simmons scuffled, Washington cut into the lead. The Wizards trimmed the deficit down to three on three occasions in the final 3:35 of regulation, but the Sixers emerged with a 118-113 victory.

Simmons finished with 31 points, 18 rebounds and four assists, giving him his 12th double-double in the first 20 games of his career. He was 15-of-29 from the line altogether and 8-of-16 from the field.

Philly also got 25 points and 14 boards from Joel Embiid, but Embiid fouled out at the 2:24 mark of the fourth when he got a piece of Washington’s Bradley Beal as he attempted a 3-pointer. Beal sank the three free throws to cut the Sixers lead to 107-103. Washington got it down to 110-107, but a three-point play from Dario Saric (24 points, 8 rebounds) on a feed from J.J. Redick ultimately sealed the deal for Philadelphia.

The Sixers set a franchise record with 37 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, connecting on 22, and were 41-of-64 (64.1 percent) for the game. Though when you remove Simmons from that equation, Philly was a much more respectable 26-of-35 (74.3 percent) from the line.

Teams know Simmons is a poor free-throw shooter. Whether they decide to follow in Washington’s footsteps and treat Simmons like teams have treated Los Angeles’ DeAndre Jordan and Detroit’s Andre Drummond in the past remains to be seen.

If they do, though, the former No. 1 overall draft pick insists he’ll be ready.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!