The Nets put Ben Simmons’ sore left knee on a strengthening program and ruled him out for their Monday (AEDT) game in Atlanta, a day when the Chicago team was beaten 131-87 by 44 points and trailed as much as 50 on one level.
But the 26-year-old said he is likely to miss a few more games.
“We’ll reevaluate it in about a week and see where I stand. There are some goals I need to hit and achieve. From there,” said Simmons, who missed his 17th game of the season on Saturday.
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Sat, February 25th
Saturday February 25th
The Nets play Atlanta on Monday, the Bucks on Wednesday and the Knicks on Thursday.
Zach LaVine poured in 32 points on Saturday to lead the Bulls’ loss to the Nets, while Cam Thomas hit a team-high 22 from the bench.
Simmons had his left knee drained of fluid and given a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection before the All-Star break. The hope was that it would ease the discomfort in his knee, but after a few exercises, the pain flared up again.
“I had drained it just before All-Star. I also had a PRP,” Simmons said. “It’s frustrating but it’s an injury I’ve never dealt with before. So it’s something I’m learning about, something we’re learning about.
“I didn’t have a normal All-Star (pause). I was still in rehab the whole time after PRP. So my break was just rehab and I was trying to get out of there. And then of course we played five against five three days ago, four days ago, which was good. But [I] didn’t move, I didn’t move and I didn’t have that power.”
Simmons missed all of last season with an L-4 herniated disc in his back, eventually requiring a microdiscectomy in May.
The three-time All-Star, robbed of his blast, is averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 43.9 shooters from the charity flick this season, all career lows.
“I’ve been fighting it all year. I haven’t been at 100 percent all year. I just want to be on the pitch, no matter what it is, no matter what position I’m in. I’m just trying to give the team what I can,” Simmons said. “Well, it’s frustrating. But it’s also the league we play in. I try to give myself to my teammates as much as possible.
“Structurally, it’s good. It’s just a matter of strength and getting it under control. It’s a frustrating process with your back and dealing with everything. It’s just something I have to deal with and it takes time. I just have to keep at it. We’re trying to work towards getting back to a place where I can play at a level where I can contribute and move.
When asked on February 13 if Simmons had fluid on his knee or needed a drain, Simmons said a drain was not necessary. But apparently the situation was deteriorating.
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With him on the Nets books for $37.9 million next season and $40.3 million the following season, getting Simmons right is paramount.
“He’s been training with us for the last two days, which has been great, and then he reported pain after those exercises,” said coach Jacque Vaughn. “At the end of the day, together as an organization, as a group, with Ben and the performance team, we said it was an opportunity to put him into some sort of strengthening phase so he can go on once he’s strengthened the knee, which is not a repeat for us .
“He won’t play those two games: that’s for sure. … Then we’ll just see how the knee reacts. If you’re empowering things – just like off-season, where you can load something, you can lift something – but it’s probably not ideal for you to also play while doing heavy loading, heavy lifting. So that’s the room we’re in right now when it’s in this buff phase. Then hopefully the knee reacts the way we want it to and he jumps right back on the bandwagon with us.”
Vaughn insisted there had been no talks about closing Simmons.
“Zero,” Vaughn said. “We’re 24 games away from making the playoffs so we thought we could capitalize on the time that comes after the All-Star hiatus where we haven’t played any games. Then it’s a good time for a re-evaluation. Can’t we use games? And where does that take us a little further?”
KEYS TO ‘UNLOCKING’ GIDDEY AFTER A DIFFICULT NIGHT ON SHOOTING.
In other news, Josh Giddey had a rough night of shooting as the Oklahoma City Thunder went down 124-115 to the Phoenix Suns without star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Gilgeous-Alexander averaged 31.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks per game for the Thunder in a breakout season and earned his first All-Star selection .
But the rising Oklahoma City superstar was sidelined on Saturday with a hip and ankle injury.
“The hip flexor is something he’s struggling with, and good at it, but that really flared up after last night’s game,” said Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.
“He was in a lot of pain this morning. It’s just not wise for him to play with it tonight.
“On the ankle I have less detail to be honest. I think that was an acute thing that happened in the game. I think if that was the only thing he was dealing with he’d probably try to walk, but the hip flexor thing is what we’re wary of.”
Oklahoma City has received plenty of performance from Isaiah Joe (28 points, 6 of 12 from downtown) in his absence, while Jalen Williams also impressed with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Giddey had his fair share of highlight reel passes in the loss but otherwise struggled to find his shooting rhythm, picking off the ground in just 3-for-14.
speaking during ESPN’s Broadcasting the game, former NBA player JJ Redick said becoming a more consistent shooter is key to realizing the Aussie’s full potential.
“He’s good at so many things,” Redick said.
“The rebound, the passing, the driving and the goal in the paint. You never know how a player will develop in three or five years, but for me the key to taking Giddey to the next level of glory is being able to get a respectable 3 percentage.”
The Suns improved their record to 33-28 with the win, and that was without star addition Kevin Durant.
Durant remains sidelined due to the MCL sprain he sustained in January but is working his way back towards a return and was seen taking shots with his new teammates before the game.
Australia’s Jock Landale had a handy five points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Devin Booker led the Suns’ standings with 25 left and eight assists.
FOX COMES ON THE CLUTCH IN 351-POINT THRILLER
Meanwhile, history was made in the final game of the day when the Sacramento Kings overcame the Los Angeles Clippers 176-175 in a two-overtime thriller.
The back-and-forth contest was the second-biggest NBA game of all time and likely would have broken the all-time record had it gone into a third overtime.
De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk led the way for the Kings, scoring 87 points together, as the latter in particular hit the clutch late in the game.
Sacramento trailed by 11 points with three minutes left before Fox took over and scored or assisted 13 of his last 17 points to send the game into overtime.
While the Kings brought plenty of points to the board, disruptive defense proved key down the line, with Sacramento converting 25 turnovers into 42 points in the game.
Russell Westbrook had a very solid 17 points and 14 assists in his Clippers debut, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 79 points in the loss.
The Milwaukee Bucks sped past the Miami Heat 128-99, but the bigger story was that Giannis Antetokounmpo left the game early with a knee injury.
The Greek freak, despite entering the contest and a cloud of injuries from a sprained wrist, played with a Heat player for just six minutes in his knees and immediately signaled a time-out on the Bucks bench.
“The basic update I got was that he had bent his knees and couldn’t come back,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game.
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The Bucks will be crossing their fingers now and hoping the setback isn’t severe, about 20 games before the playoffs.
Jrue Holiday improved in Antetokounmpo’s absence with 24 points and seven assists and Brook Lopez added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Jimmy Butler led Miami with 23 points and Kevin Love was scoreless on his Heat debut with eight rebounds.
It was the 13th straight win for Milwaukee — the longest streak in the NBA this season and the fifth-longest in franchise history — improving to 42-17 overall.
CUTS 118 WIZARD 109
CAVALIERS 119 Falcon 136
HEAT 99 dollars 128
HORNETS 121 WOODWOLVES 113
NETWORKS 87 TAURUS 131
thunder 115 SUNS 124
KINGS 176 SCHNEIDER 175 (2OT)