‘Monster’ Simmons’ history-making magic
BEN Simmons had the first playoff triple-double by a rookie in nearly 40 years, JJ Redick scored 24 points and the Philadelphia 76ers outlasted the Miami Heat 106-102 to move within a victory of the second round.
The 76ers lead the Eastern Conference series 3-1 and can close out the Heat when play resumes in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Simmons became the first rookie since Magic Johnson in 1980 to post a playoff triple-double - 17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists. Joel Embiid finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for Philadelphia.
But the Aussie wasn't getting caught up in the hype.
"It just means I'm doing my job," he said after the match. "The stats I've averaged all season have been up there. It's not really anything new for the team or myself."
Dwyane Wade led all scorers with 25 points off the bench for the Heat, who led by 12 points in the second half before letting a game they almost certainly had to have slip away.
Wade carried the comeback effort, with the Heat down six and less than two minutes left. His three-point play cut the margin in half and his next two field goals got Miami within one each time.
The Heat got no closer.
Goran Dragic scored 20, James Johnson had 15 and Hassan Whiteside finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which now needs to pull off some history. The Heat have erased a 3-1 deficit only once, in 1997 against New York.
Miami held slim leads at the half - 2-0 in players who went to the locker room injured, 4-0 in stitches received, 61-56 on the scoreboard.
A wild scene was the story of the second quarter. Philadelphia's Dario Saric was driving from the right wing and had his dribble knocked away by Justise Winslow, and four players wound up on the floor as they went for the loose ball. Josh Richardson took the worst of it, getting slammed into by Embiid. Richardson stayed down for more than a minute, eventually getting helped to his feet and to the Miami locker room.
Hardly anyone noticed.
All eyes were on the other end, where Dragic was shoved to the floor by Robert Covington. James Johnson - a black belt and MMA fighter - took exception and went toward Covington, so Simmons came in for a few words.
It wound up taking two referees, two Heat coaches and a few players to get everyone separated.
Winslow needed stitches to close a gash over his left eye. Richardson, his left shoulder bruised, came back for the second half. Simmons sent another message moments after the dust-up by drilling Wade.
Miami led by 12 in the third, but ceded control in a hurry. The Heat went five minutes without scoring, and Redick's reverse layup with 9:01 left capped a 14-0 run that put Philadelphia up 87-83.
The 76ers wouldn't trail again.