Simmons debuts, Harris returns for Nets
Point guard and sharp-shooter compete in preseason loss
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving gobbled up most of the headlines coming out of the Brooklyn Nets’ offseason.
But seeing Ben Simmons and Joe Harris healthy and active for Monday night’s preseason opener at Downtown’s Barclays Center was the best news heading into this campaign for Brooklyn hoops fanatics.
Making his Nets debut, Simmons had six points and five assists while Harris added six points on a pair of 3-pointers as Brooklyn suffered a 127-108 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in front of 13,250 fans on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
Simmons, who sat out all of last season with mental-health issues and a herniated disk, logged 19 minutes while starting at point guard.
The 6-foot-11 native of Australia hit 3-of-6 shots from the floor and grabbed four rebounds for the Nets (0-1), who were without Seth Curry (ankle) and T.J. Warren (foot).
Harris, who played in only 14 games last year due to an ankle injury that required surgery in March, went 2-of-7 from long range in 15 minutes of action
He also marveled at the versatility Simmons provides, either from the point or any other position he may find himself in this season.
“Ben has been awesome. He’s an incredible player,” Harris told the New York Post. “He’s been out, so people — not that you forget about Ben Simmons, but you don’t really talk about him quite as much.
“But when he plays, he’s [an] All-Star-caliber player. He’s such a versatile basketball player where in today’s NBA he’s 1-through-5, can play every position, guard position, which is a luxury not a lot of teams have.”
Durant, who tried to force the Nets into trading him this summer, had 13 points and Nic Claxton and Edmond Sumner added 12 apiece for Brooklyn, which got outscored 42-26 in the opening quarter.
Irving had nine points and four assists while finally teaming with Durant and Simmons to form Brooklyn’s new Big Three.
“It’s great to take advantage of the opportunity for those guys to play together and keep developing the understanding between them; but you definitely also don’t want to overdo it,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said.
“The goal is for everyone to land safely on opening night, and if they’re able to get a bunch of minutes in together, that’s a bonus.”
James Harden, who was sent from Brooklyn to the City of Brotherly Love for Simmons, Curry and Andre Drummond prior to the trade deadline in February, sat out against his former teammates.
However, Tyrese Maxey poured in 20 points and Furkan Korkmaz and Julian Champagnie added 15 each off the bench for the 76ers (1-0), who nailed 8-of-14 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes to take the lead for good.
The Nets will return to action here Thursday night vs. the Miami Heat.
NOTHING BUT NET: The Nets will host their annual Practice in the Park on Sunday at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 2. Fans are invited to watch the Nets take the court as they prepare for the upcoming season with one of New York City’s most iconic views as the backdrop. This is the sixth time the Nets have held their open practice at Brooklyn Bridge Park. … Following their two-game exhibition homestand, the Nets will round out the preseason with a visit to Milwaukee next Wednesday and their finale Oct. 14 in Minnesota. Brooklyn will begin the regular season in Brooklyn vs. New Orleans on Oct. 19.
In other local sports news, Maimonides Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, announced Monday it will host Team Ukraine for a pair of charity baseball games against the NYPD and FDNY to raise funds to help rebuild sports fields and complexes throughout Ukraine.
Tickets for the games, which will be played from Oct. 14-15 will be free with a suggested donation of $10 upon entry.
“New York City is home to more than 150,000 people of Ukrainian descent, and since the beginning of the Russian invasion we have worked to support the Ukrainian community and help them access services and resources, including temporary protective status, so they can rebuild their lives,” said Mayor Eric Adams.
“We also want to find every opportunity to share a message of love and solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. New Yorkers look forward to welcoming the Ukrainian national baseball team to our city and to watching them square off against New York’s Bravest and New York’s Finest.”
Though tickets to the event are free, they must be reserved by visiting BrooklynCyclones.com/Ukraine.
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