The Brooklyn Nets knew what was coming.
After six straight games of playing over 30 minutes, Ben Simmons experienced soreness in his left knee again.
Simmons is listed day-to-day after he left with still 9:03 left in the second quarter during the Nets’ 109-102 win Monday night at Barclays Center.
“No [it’s not related to his previous back injury]. I think more so than anything, the accumulation of games. He hasn’t had this amount of accumulation of games over a period of a long time. I talked to the performance team about that. We were warned about that just as these games started to add up. His cumulative load as that begins to add up, it’s really stretching him sometimes the amount of games we’ve just had with the minutes that he’s played pretty high going into tonight’s game.”Jacque Vaughn postgame via NBA.com
Simmons averaged 33.3 minutes in the six games before Monday’s night matchup with the Magic. His two-point dud on just three attempts against the Portland Trail Blazers could have been an indication that something’s not right.
And it unraveled in the second quarter after Simmons missed all his three attempts from the field. He left the game with four rebounds, three assists against two turnovers in 11 minutes.
With Simmons out, Kevin Durant shouldered a heavier burden and responded with a season-high 45 points on an incredible 19 of 24 shooting against a young but hard-fighting Magic squad.
“We’ve got to play smaller, [Simmons] is one of our bigs out there. So I thought coach (Vaughn) did a good job of trying to pick out the small lineup on the fly. We got to play a little faster, and I think we all got to do a good job of gang rebounding, doing the little stuff when he’s not out there.
We have some practice with him not being in the lineup, and we were able to figure some stuff out, so something as drastic as this, him leaving in the [second] quarter, we were able to make that adjustment.”Kevin Durant postgame via NBA.com
Durant grabbed seven rebounds, while Nic Claxton and Royce O’Neale corralled 13 and 10, respectively, as the Nets outrebounded the Magic, 42-35.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points in a supporting role. Claxton produced a double-double with 17 points, and Joe Harris also came through with a season-high 17 points off the bench.
It was a collective effort for the Nets, whose injuries are starting to pile up.
Simmons joined Yuta Watanabe (hamstring tightness) on the sidelines.
Despite Simmons’ latest setback, the Nets climbed to .500 after winning the first of a seven-game home stand.
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