PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons got an earful from the Philly crowd.
With the same 76ers fans Simmons put on blast for booing in the playoff opener now going wild in Game 2, Simmons cupped a hand to his right ear just like Allen Iverson’s signature move to spur the cheers even louder.
And he did it with Iverson rooting on the Sixers from courtside.
Simmons had 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers had an answer for the pesky Brooklyn Nets in a 145-123 win to even their Eastern Conference playoff series Monday night.
Simmons had a disastrous Game 1 , on the court (nine points) and from a PR perspective after he criticized fans for booing during a game the Sixers were never really in. He backtracked the next day at practice and never gave another 20,591 fans a chance to do anything but roar in approval in Game 2. Simmons flashed the All-Star form that helped lead the Sixers to 51 wins, and was aggressive from tipoff. He used his size and speed to attack the lane and scored 16 points in the half — and then put the game away in the third.
The Sixers busted the game open with a 14-0 run to start the second half and then stretched the lead to 20 on a Simmons steal and fastbreak basket. With a packed house standing, Simmons got a massive ovation when he cupped his hand to his right ear just like Iverson did in his prime.
Iverson and former Sixers teammate Dikembe Mutombo attended the game and tossed T-shirts into the crowd.
Had Mutombo played in this one, the Nets surely would have received one of his signature finger wags.
The Nets collapsed in the second half, outplayed and overmatched much as expected by pundits and bookmakers (they were 7.5-point Game 2 underdogs).