Recent games have not been kind to the Brooklyn Nets. Before the MCL injury to Kevin Durant, the Nets were 14-1 over the course of their last 15 games. But since he’s been sidelined, they’ve lost four games in a row and have yet to pick up a victory.
With Durant out, the Nets are going to be forced to simply keep their heads above water, and they will need Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons to be at the top of their games in order to do that. In their most recent loss to the Phoenix Suns, Simmons got ejected after arguing with the officials, who, in the third quarter, called him for his third quarter. After the game, head coach Jacque Vaughn broke down the issue.
“I think a big part of defense is your preparation,” Vaughn said via the JER – Sports Journalist YouTube channel. “And so, a lot of times, whether that is a reach, whether that is a gamble, whether that is a late reaction, is because your position at the beginning wasn’t set and sound. And so with Ben and a bunch of other guys, because we have had trouble falling, of not picking up the ones where the referee clearly sees it, it has no impact on the play, and it adds up. So that’s just playing hard but playing smart at the same time. And so we’ve tried to address that with our group. You see, numerous times we reached in – it was across the board, not just Ben. And we’ve struggled [with] fouling. And that is not being positioned at the beginning of a play and then reacting because the offense has the advantage.”
Before Simmons’ fifth foul and subsequent ejection from the contest, he put up fairly decent numbers. In 18:06 of court time, Simmons posted seven points, four rebounds, and six assists on 3-of-4 shooting from the field.
Phoenix jumped out to a massive lead, and the Nets failed to complete their comeback despite Irving’s best attempt. The point guard finished the night with 30 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks on 11-of-27 shooting from the field and 2-of-8 shooting from distance.
Ben Simmons Sounds Off on Ejection
While Brooklyn’s efforts proved to be futile, Simmons was not happy after the game. He discussed his ejection and the foul call that led to it.
“I think you’re going to call the game like that, then you got to be consistent. I think it’s been like that all year. I think if you’re going to call it a moving pick, you got to be consistent on both ends. Same with the holding,” Simmons said via the New York Post. “It’s tough. I’m going to be physical. I’m a 6-foot-10 guy who likes to guard certain guys. I’m going to be physical. I’m not going to tone it down because the refs don’t want to see the physicality. I’m 6-10, 240, and I’m guarding these guys. It is what it is. There’s obviously going to be certain calls you’ve got to make, but … I don’t know.”
Ben Simmons Sends Message to Jacque Vaughn
Ironically enough, Simmons’ejection came not long after he pleaded for Vaughn to give him more rope. After Brooklyn’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Simmons spoke about his desire for Vaughn to leave him in the game despite his foul count.
“As a competitor, I want to stay in the game regardless of if I got four because I got two more to give. So, I kind of want that trust in coach for him to just leave me out there. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had four fouls, and you’ve got to trust your guys,” Simmons said via the New York Post. “Obviously it’s frustrating to pick up your fourth. I think it’s a game of runs. I don’t think we managed it well. We needed to get stops, and that’s where we flourish, getting stops, getting out in transition. Too many fouls, too many turnovers, no transition, which is really what the game was.”