Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid each scored 22 points and Tobias Harris added 19 for the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers to beat the Washington Wizards 120-95 and take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Simmons added nine rebounds and eight assists after becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to have at least 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game in a 125-118 win in Game 1.
The Aussie All-Star was in the thick of the action once again in Game 2, and had a message for his critics in Philadelphia following that stellar performance in Game 1 that saw him score just six points and miss all six of his free throws.
“I’m not trying to stick to anybody in Philly,” Simmons told media post-game after producing his highest-scoring playoff game since 2019.
“I thought it was pretty hard to get 15 assists and 15 rebounds in the NBA in the playoffs. I thought that was pretty impressive. And we won.
“What y’all want? You want to win? For me, I’m here to win and I’m doing what I need to do to help my team win, whatever it is.
“I’m not trying to prove anybody wrong or anything like that. I’m trying to do my job to win.”
Simmons was aggressive from the start in Game 2, scoring the team’s first two baskets on his way to 12 points in the first quarter, including three dunks.
He said he wasn’t trying to prove a point but rather making plays available, a trait his coach Doc Rivers appreciated in defending the Australian product earlier in the week.
“That’s the point of basketball, right? People who have it going, you have to give them the ball,” Simmons said.
“I’m not surprised Doc said that because Doc knows the game.
“A lot of these people who are saying things haven’t played the game.”
The 24-year-old showed his versatility to outmuscle Bradley Beal to score before denying the Wizards star at the other end of the court.
Simmons scores then backs it up on defence
Embiid was happy to see Simmons take advantage when Washington chose to double-team him.
“With the way they were guarding me, guys were open and he was the recipient of that,” Embiid said.
“He was aggressive. I told him: ‘You have all the space in the world. Just attack and be aggressive.'”
Simmons also put a spin move on Russell Westbrook that sent him sprawling to the floor several minutes before an ankle injury sent the NBA’s triple-double king to the locker room and nearly into the stands to confront a misbehaving fan.
Westbrook fumes after fan throws popcorn
Westbrook went down after colliding with Furkan Korkmaz early in the fourth quarter. He limped off the floor and then was restrained by security after a fan threw popcorn at him as he was headed under the tunnel.
“We’ll see,” Westbrook said about his availability for the next game. “Hurt it twice in a short amount of time. We’ll see what happens.”
Beal had 33 points and Westbrook finished with 10 points and 11 assists for sub-.500 Washington.
Embiid scored on a driving layup, got knocked to the floor and sank a free throw to complete a three-point play in the final minute of the second quarter. Dwight Howard led the crowd’s chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” for Embiid, who raised both hands and soaked in the adoration.
The Sixers withstood 24 first-half points from Beal in the first half and led 71-57 at halftime. They maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half.
Game 3 is Saturday night at Washington.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!