Ben Simmons, defensive masterclass, Carmelo Anthony jersey gift, 76ers lose to Trail Blazers

Ben Simmons is one of those players that always cops criticism whether he deserves it or not.

Despite the 24-year-old being one of the NBA’s elite defenders, all the world ever seems to want to talk about his refusal to take jump shots.

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While he regularly tallies triple-doubles and sets everyone else on the team up, his mistakes often make the headlines.

A two-time All-Star, Simmons is currently outside the top 10 in All-Star voting for Eastern Conference guards and looks like he’ll miss this season’s game at this stage, should it go ahead at all.

But the Aussie star had a standout performance against the Portland Trail Blazers with a season-high 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, while the world was raving over his defensive prowess.

This is despite a 118-114 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, a game that ended with Simmons unable to find a teammate from an inbound with 3.1 seconds left in the game and the Sixers two points down.

While 76ers coach Doc Rivers believed it was a foul on Tobias Harris that caused the turnover that sealed the game for Portland, it couldn’t take away from Simmons’ starring performance.

So much so that post-match, 18-year NBA veteran Carmelo Anthony, who caught fire with 17 points in the final quarter, gave Simmons his jersey after the game.

Simmons also swapped jerseys with NBA legend Dwayne Wade when he bowed out of the NBA in 2019, and although Anthony has not announced anything, it’s clearly a sign of the respect he has for the Aussie.

The Sixers shot poorly in the game with six from 27 from three-point range, the Aussie’s defence kept Blazers star Damian Lillard quiet.

While Lillard scored 30 points, he scored just six from 21 shots with Simmons declaring after the game: “I think I’m the best defensive player in the NBA”.

Social media appeared ready to agree with that assessment.

The 76ers still have the top spot in the Eastern Conference but it’s now back to 1.5 games over the Milwaukee Bucks and 3.5 ahead of the Brooklyn Nets.

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