Simmons Shines in Historic Victory

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Oooooooh baby. Where to begin?

Why don't we start here, with the following blanket statement:

There are lopsided games in the NBA almost every night. But what the 76ers did to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Saturday's first half...wow. 

It went beyond lopsided, deeper than a beatdown. 

It was total destruction by way of fury and force, embodied wholly on both ends of the court by a determined All-Star. 

The Sixers entered the evening looking for a purge, and unfortunately for the Cavs, they were the next team up on the schedule. 

The final score was 141-94.

The number of the night, however, was 41, as in the Sixers' point margin at the half, 77-36. It marked the largest halftime lead in franchise history, which only dates back 71 years. 

The Sixers were up by as many as 53 points before the final horn sounded. If the mission was to quickly move past Thursday's disappointing loss in Washington, the club accomplished it quickly. 

In addition to a totally dominant collective performance, Saturday's victory was also validation for Ben Simmons' all-around excellence. 

You want to see leadership? 

You don't just give a few quotes, go out there, and simply "get your team going" on the heels of a tough game.

No, you go out there and you spearhead an obliteration, swinging the wrecking ball the whole time. And that's precisely what Ben Simmons did. 

Thirty-five seconds into the first quarter, he turned a defensive deflection into a powerful left-handed jam. 

Half a minute later came a drive into the lane for a sweet right-handed hookshot. 

Please. Ben Simmons was just getting started. 

He swiftly added a length-of-the-court finger roll lay-up, followed by a cutting dunk two possessions after that. 

The 23-year old scored eight of the first 10 points in Saturday's game. 

During that stretch, Simmons set the tone defensively as well, grabbing three rebounds and blocking a couple shots. 

He was all over the place, and the Cavaliers wanted no part of him. None. That much was evident.  

By the end of the first period, Simmons had hit 6 of his 7 shots for 14 points, the highest first-quarter total this season for any player on the Sixers' roster. 

When Simmons returned in the middle of the second frame, he only seemed that much more emboldened. 

He knocked down an 11-foot fadeaway to put the Sixers up 27, 51-24. He then pried away a steal and sliced back the other direction for another lay-up.

Simmons' outrageous outing climaxed with 3:45 to go in Saturday's opening half, when Cleveland decided to leave him all by his lonesome on the wing in front of the Cavs bench. Trey Burke heaved a pass across the court, and Simmons obliged by swishing home his second career 3-pointer. 

For an encore, Burke swiped the ball from Collin Sexton, and fed Simmons for an alley-oop dunk. The Sixers led 63-28. 

Simmons assisted on the Sixers' next two baskets, before adding a block and turnaround jumper to punctuate his remarkable first-half stat line. 

In a mere 17 minutes, he exploded for 26 points on 11 for 12 shooting, while also posting three rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. 

It was every bit as insane as it sounds. 

The Sixers' 41-point halftime lead, 77-36, wasn't only the largest halftime lead in franchise history, but the second-largest halftime lead in the NBA the past two seasons. The Sixers' 77 points set a record for any team in any half in the 23-year history of The Center. 

Wait a second. 

Did we mention that on Saturday the 76ers were without two of their starters, Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson? Oh yeah, there was that minor detail, too. 

Simmons continued to shine in the second half. He finished with a career-high 34 points behind a 9 for 12 showing from the free throw line. The 30-point game was his fourth as a pro.



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By the time Simmons exited Saturday's game for good with 3:36 left in the third quarter, the Sixers had their 16th win well in hand. 

Not to be overshadowed by Simmons' work was Mike Scott's 21-point effort. With Embiid and Richardson out, the veteran got his first start of the season, and went 3 for 5 from beyond the arc. 

Trey Burke came off the bench for 21 points and eight assists. 

But as Brett Brown often likes to say, the NBA regular season is all about how you back it up. And wouldn't you know, the Sixers will be right back on the hardwood Sunday against none other than the Toronto Raptors. 

Simmons and Co. will undoubtedly look to carry their momentum forward. 

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