INJURED: Ben Simmons takes it to the hoop before rolling his ankle in the 76ers’ loss to Cleveland. Picture: AAP Images
Ben Simmons limped off the court with an ankle injury as his Philadelphia 76ers were soundly beaten by Cleveland, but the n basketball prodigy still received high praise from LeBron James.
James’ Cavaliers crushed the 76ers 113-91 inPhiladelphia’s on Monday.
An initial X-ray on Simmons’ ankle cleared the Newcastle junior of a fracture.
The 21-year-old, who was given the defensive assignment on James, went scoreless in the second and third quarters and had a below-average 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
Simmons was averaging 18.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists heading into the game.
Plenty of hype preceded the match-up, with James – the four-time NBA MVP – and Simmons, considered a future superstar of the sport, going head-to-head in an NBA game for the first time.
The Cavaliers took charge early and led by 12 points going into the final quarter, with James ending with 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
James, who calls Simmons his “little bro”, took therookie under his wing in 2014 when the then 17-year-old attended the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.
Simmons subsequently signed with James’ management company Klutch Sports Group two years later.
“I’m honoured a gifted kid would allow me to be part of his life and allow me to mentor and be a big brother to him,” James told reporters.
The arduous NBA season appears to be taking a toll on Simmons.
An elbow injury forced the n rookie to miss the 76ers’ game on Saturday against the Orlando Magic and with five minutes to go against the Cavs he was forced off with a suspected sprained right ankle.Philadelphia’s medical staff will evaluate Simmons’ ankle on Tuesday morning.
Simmons missed the 2016-17 NBA season with a foot fracture.
The physically gifted 208cm tall Simmons, whose speed and exceptional passing skills allow him to play point guard, has been compared to the 203cm tall James.
The 76ers’ centre Joel Embiid was strong with 30 points and 11 rebounds, but lacked the usual support from Simmons and reliable scorers Robert Covington and Dario Saric who had just two and eight points respectively.
The 76ers connected with just 36 of their 96 field-goal attempts, including missing 25 of their 28 three-point shots.