Ben Simmons shines, Royce O’Neale tips in game-winner

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The Brooklyn Nets visited the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center on Thursday and won 109-107. Forward Kevin Durant and 35 points and eight rebounds while forward Royce O’Neale had a triple-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists, including the game-winning tip-in.

Thursday’s game was contested throughout, but the Nets made their push in the third quarter. Ben Simmons had his best game of the season with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists and looked confident on the floor.

Blazers guard Damian Lillard had 25 points and 11 assists and guard Anfernee Simons had 24 points and 2 steals. Brooklyn was down by 11 points in the third quarter, but came back to win the game by playing defense and sharing the ball.

Here are the Nets player grades for Thursday’s win:

Kevin Durant: A+

Durant started the game slow as he was letting things develop for his teammates. Durant did a good job of facilitating the offense to allow guys like Harris to go off in the first quarter. Durant started taking over in the second quarter by taking advantage of anyone who guarded him by shooting over them and drawing fouls to get to the free-throw line.

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Royce O’Neale: A+

O’Neale’s shot has been off as of late, but that didn’t stop him from making an impact in this game. O’Neale did what he could defensively to stymie the likes of Jerami Grant and Josh Hart by using his strength to prevent those guys from driving to the basket. The former Utah Jazz defender turned into a point god by racking up assists like they were going out of style. O’Neale did an excellent job of keeping the offense flowing.

Joe Harris: B+

Harris started the game hot by absolutely raining three’s in the first quarter. Harris had one of his best shooting games of the season and it helped spread things out for guys like Durant and Simmons to be able to do damage in the painted area. Harris remained patient on the perimeter and when the ball found its way to help, he was ready to shoot the ball with confidence.

Nic Claxton: B

Claxton had another tough matchup on Thursday by going against the bigger Jusuf Nurkic. Claxton struggles against bigger guys for obvious reasons, but he was able to hold his own against Nurkic. Claxton did a great job of not letting Nurkic get into him so that Claxton could use his length to bother Nurkic at the rim.

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Edmond Sumner: D

Sumner did not play much on Thursday because he was unable to make an impact on either end of the floor. Sumner did not look comfortable on offense and that could because of the way that the Blazers were defending the pick-and-roll by going under the screens. Sumner is a good shooter, but it seems that he’s better when he can spot up as opposed to shooting off the dribble. He also struggled defensively going against Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.

Ben Simmons: A

Simmons had a wonderful game on Thursday. Simmons has looked like a different player in the past couple of games for the Nets with the way that he’s confidently looking for his shot at the rim or looking for any creases in the defense to slip his passes through. Simmons was all over the court and showed the kind of all-around ability that made him an all-star in Philadelphia.

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Yuta Watanabe: A

Watanabe seems to bring it every game and Thursday was no exception. He not only drove to the rim whenever he wanted to, he also shot the ball whenever he got the ball just to show that he wasn’t scared of the moment. Watanabe used his smarts and mobility to make it impossible to track him off the ball and that made it easy for Watanabe to draw fouls or get open for corner threes.

Seth Curry: D

Curry had one of his least-involved games of the season. He was on the floor for a good amount of time, but seemed to be phased out of the offense because of how Portland was taking away the middle of the floor where Curry likes to operate. Portland gave up plenty of drives to the rim and while Curry can drive to the basket, he would rather spot up for threes or get to his mid-range jumper.

Story originally appeared on Nets Wire

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