Maxey scores 20 as Sixers beat Nets in Simmons' preseason debut
NEW YORK (AP) — Tyrese Maxey scored 20 points, Julian Champagnie and Furkan Korkmaz finished with 15 each as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated Brooklyn 127-108 on Monday night as the Nets finally had all three of their big stars on the floor at the same time.
Kevin Durant had 13 points for the Nets, Kyrie Irving had nine points and four assists and Ben Simmons — making his first appearance for Brooklyn since he was acquired from Philadelphia last season — added six points and five assists.
Nic Claxton scored 12 points, making all six of his shots from the field, for the Nets, Edmond Sumner also scored 12 while Royce O’Neale — acquired from Utah in an offseason trade — finished with 11 points.
The marquee matchup Monday featured potentially two of the strongest teams in the Eastern Conference with superstars on both squads. There are the questions about Simmons, traded last season to the Nets for James Harden, and whether pairing him with Durant, Irving and other pieces will be enough for the Nets to eclipse last season’s disappointing 44-38 record.
As for the Sixers, having Harden with MVP runner-up Joel Embiid for a full season should solidify Philadelphia’s spot as a top contender in the East.
But the full vision of those connections will have to wait.
For the preseason opener, the Sixers played a shell of their regular rotation. Embiid, Harden, newcomers Danuel House Jr. and P.J. Tucker took the night off.
Maxey took up the offensive slack with the absences, as the Sixers took an early lead with the help of 8-for-14 shooting on 3-pointers in the first quarter.
By the time halftime arrived, Philadelphia still held the lead behind Maxey’s 20 points. The three keys for the Nets — Durant, Irving and Simmons — played 19 minutes, and their night was done.
By the midway point of the third quarter, both teams had moved on to their reserves in what became a close game until the Sixers pulled away, outscoring the Nets 36-24 in the third.
While most of the focus for the Nets was on Durant, Irving and Simmons finally being on the court together, Brooklyn also saw the return of Joe Harris, who suffered a left ankle injury that eventually required surgery in March. Harris connected on 2 of 7 3-pointers, finishing with six points.