Kevin Durant Calls Ben Simmons ‘Incredible’ After Season-High Outing

Ben Simmons had a vintage performance that helped Brooklyn pick up a 109-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.

The former No. 1 overall pick out of LSU nearly dropped a triple-double after scoring 15 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and passing seven assists in 32 minutes of action. It was the kind of performance that led to Kevin Durant (35 points and eight rebounds on 13-22 shooting from the field and 1-4 shooting from beyond the arc) calling him “incredible” after his best performance of the young season.

“I’m just happy for him because he’s been trying to get his form back,” Durant said, per ESPN. “Trying to figure his rhythm out. Tonight I think he did a good job just talking up, commanding the offense, commanding the team on the defensive side of the ball. He was incredible tonight. So we’re going to keep building on that, and hopefully, we’re able to get this next one, but he controlled the game and was able to get us back into it.”

Simmons was already riding high after posting an 11/5/3 outing against the Kings. Just two days later, Simmons was able to follow that up by taking his game to another level as he attacked the rim frequently and showed no hesitation when the Blazers sent him to the line when they deployed a “Hack-a-Ben” strategy in the final minutes of their eventual loss.

Simmons went 3-4 from the line down the stretch and played at a level that the Nets were hopeful they’d get out of the gates when they traded for him at last season’s February trade deadline.

“I love those moments,” Simmons said. “I’m not going to shy away. That was their plan. Obviously, it didn’t work. We were able to convert a couple free throws, get some stops. Just keep building. I like those moments.”

Head coach Jacque Vaughn said Simmons’ out was “very encouraging” after he played a season-high 32 minutes, the most he’s played in November. Vaughn also praised Simmons’ ability to guard Jusuf Nurkic and Damian Lillard and said that Brooklyn “envisioned him doing everything for us.” Vaughn attributed Simmons’ strong performance to “just feeling good” from missing the last five games due to a swollen left knee.

Simmons and the Nets will look to keep the good vibes going and win their third game in a row against the Grizzlies on Sunday.

“I’m coming,” Simmons said. “I’m getting there, man. It’s taking a little bit of time, but I got my own back. My teammates got my back, my coaches.”