Life's Ben good for 76ers, Simmons as they host Grizzlies

By The Sports Xchange  |  March 20, 2018 at 11:27 PM
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One game at a time, Ben Simmons is making it clear his fancy passing is no passing fancy.

The Philadelphia 76ers will take his ample assistance into a Wednesday matchup against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, who will attempt to clog the lanes against a rookie who seems to be able to bulldoze them.

On Monday in a 108-94 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets, Simmons picked up his third triple-double in four games with one of the cleanest games by a rookie in NBA history: 11 points, 12 rebounds, 15 assists, three steals and zero turnovers, the first such stat-line for a rookie in NBA history.

"How about that? Fifteen assists, no turnovers, he was great tonight," 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters after the game. "He really was something unique with the pace that he played, finding shooters. Ben was fantastic tonight."

Right now, Simmons -- the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year -- is putting up unique numbers. He has double-digit assists in a season-high four straight games and six of eight, averaging 10.6 assists for the month.

"(I'm) just seeing my guys open," he said. "Trusting them to hit open shots. They made it easy for me. I think people get caught up in how many points I score. Every game, it's not about that. It's about the amount of points we get as a team, and how many the other teams get."

With Simmons' court-vision improving by the day, the 76ers have won three straight games to move to a season-high nine games over .500 (39-30).

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are heading in the opposite direction.

Memphis rediscovered its losing ways Monday, falling in Brooklyn to the Nets 118-115 after a victory over Denver on Saturday snapped a 19-game losing streak.

Memphis, which ranks 30th in the league in scoring (99 points per game) and tied for 28th in rebounds, heads to play a 76ers squad that leads the league in boards (46.8 per game), ranks third in assists (26 per game) and 10th in scoring 108.1.

"It's (about) learning how to win," Memphis interim coach J.R. Bickerstaff said after the game. "Consistency and learning how to win are the two hardest things to develop in this league. The only way you learn is through experience. You can watch all of the NBA basketball you want to but until you're in that moment and the pressure is on you, you feel your heart beat a little bit faster, the game is moving a little bit faster, until you learn how to play in those moments and slow those moments down, until you go through it, you won't learn. It's invaluable."

For the Grizzlies (19-51), who are in a battle with the Phoenix Suns for the worst record in the league, priorities have changed this deep into the season.

"Right now, playoffs are out the window," Memphis forward JaMychael Green said. "Now, we're playing just to build chemistry, find some type of momentum and carry it into next year."

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