Ben Simmons leaves Nets game against Magic with knee soreness

Brooklyn Nets’ Ben Simmons walks the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Ben Simmons exited Monday night’s Nets game against the Orlando Magic early due to soreness in his left knee. 

The Brooklyn point guard left the game in the middle of the second quarter around the 8:24 mark after the Nets had gone on a 6-0 run to take a 29-28 lead. Simmons was subbed out with 9:03 left in the half and less than a minute later he walked off to the Nets’ dressing room.

Simmons did not return to the game and Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters that he was day-to-day. 

“He had some left knee soreness, that same knee,” Vaughn said after the Nets’ win. “asked to be pulled from the game. We’ll check in kind of day by day. See how he responds with a little treatment. See what looks like tomorrow.”

Vaughn added that he didn’t expect any imagining to be necessary for Simmons and that the performance team hadn’t mentioned anything like that when he spoke with them. The Nets head coach seemed to indicate that the knee issue hadn’t been a result of Simmons’ back issues or surgery that he underwent over the summer. 

Rather, the Nets Coach said, it likely had to do with the number of games he’s been playing. 

“He hasn’t had this amount of accumulation of games over a period of a long time,” Vaughn said. “Talking to the performance team about that, warned about that a little bit just as these games start to add up. His cumulative load as it begins to add up. It’s really stretching him at some times, the amount of games we just had with the minutes that he’s played pretty high going into tonight’s game.”

While Simmons’ back had been the main source of problems last season, his knee has been the culprit this season. Simmons has already missed five games due to issues with his left knee, which included missing four straight games spanning Halloween to Nov. 5 against Charlotte. 

Simmons missed an additional game during the Nets’ West Coast road trip earlier this month when the Nets faced the Los Angeles Lakers. And Brooklyn limited Simmons to roughly 15 minutes against Dallas on Nov. 7 and in Brooklyn’s showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 12. 

“Well, health is the number one priority so we want him to be at his best,” Kyrie Irving said. “I’m glad that our medical staff, coaching staff and himself,  we all agreed that he will sit down in the second half just to save him for games that matter going in the future. Not saying that these games don’t matter, but games that you know we’re gonna need him most. … we’ll definitely miss him in the lineup. I hope, you know, hopefully, come back next game, but if he’s dealing with it, we just want to get as healthy as possible and we’ll figure it out.”

The often scrutinized point guard had been trending in the right direction after a slow start to the season. He pulled down a team-best 12 boards in Sunday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers and had a season-high 20 points against the Indiana pacers before that. 

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The Nets have become a bit accustomed at times to playing without Simmons in the lineup, and have an idea of what they need to do when he’s not on the floor. 

“We’ve just gotta play smaller. I mean, you know, he’s one of our bigs out there,” Kevin Durant said. “So I thought coach did a good job with trying to figure out the small lineup on the fly. We’ve got to play a little faster. And I think we all just got to do a good job of game rebounding and doing the little stuff when he’s not out there. So we have practice in with him not being in the lineup, and we was able to figure some stuff out. So something drastic as this, leaving in the first quarter, we was able to make an adjustment.”

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