BEN Simmons and Joe Ingles embraced each other with a brotherly hug and handshake before the game.
The all-Australian showdown in Philadelphia looked set to be a love-in.
But as Simmons’ new-look 76ers welcomed the Utah Jazz into their Philly fortress, the sledging began.
The verbal friendly fire appeared to work wonders as small forward Ingles marked his
younger compatriot for most of the first half, keeping an uncharacteristically rusty Simmons
to just five points.
But the 21-year-old rookie emerged from halftime to produce his best performance in an
already brilliant 16-game NBA career, lifting the Sixers to a 107—86 victory at the Wells
Fargo Center in south Philly.
PIE IN THE SKY: Simmons backs Aussie icon’s expansion
Chosen by the Sixers as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Simmons took the game by
the scruff of the neck with a career-high 27 points — 22 coming in a dominant second half, in addition to 10 rebounds, two assists, and four steals.
Simmons’ 11 double-doubles are the most by any NBA player in their first 16 games since
Shaquille O’Neal in 1993.
“I guess the hype behind (him) is now out on the floor,” a deflated Ingles told The Daily
Telegraph after the 21-point loss.
“He’s leading his team and he’s doing a good job of it. For a young guy the age he is to lead
that team is seriously impressive.”
Combined with JJ Redick’s 20-point haul, Joel Embiid’s 15 points and 11 rebounds, as well as
13 points from Robert Covington, a revved-up full-house crowd appeared ready to tear the
Was the 30-year-old Adelaide native Ingles impressed by Simmons’ swashbuckling
“Not when you’re on the end of it, trying to win the game yourself,” Ingles said.
“Maybe, when I retire I’ll look back and say that.
“It’s hard to digest after a loss, but I am happy for him that he’s playing well — not just
against us, but every team so far.”
Summing up the game beautifully was a line drive 208cm-tall Simmons directed at Ingles en
route to scoring early in the third quarter, kickstarting a series of fearless charges at the
With Ingles — the highest-paid Australian in the league on a $US52 million, four-year deal — managing eight points, one rebound and one assist, Simmons showed whose house it was.
“It’s a lot of fun, but he’s not winning over me,” Simmons joked. “Every time I play Joe, I’m winning.”
Simmons said the exchanges were all in good fun, noting how much respect he has for
Ingles’ hard-earned journey to the US.
Ingles cut his teeth at home in the NBL before carving out a path through Europe, playing in
Spain and Israel — where he won a Euroleague championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv before
settling into a key role with Utah.
“I came into the league a lot younger, obviously. We’ve definitely had different paths, but
there’s more than one way to the NBA.
“He’s had a great career so far and he’s a great person, I love playing against him.”