LeBron James took the steam out of any anticipation of a matchup between him and Ben Simmons in a matter of minutes in the Cavaliers’ 113-91 win over the Sixers on Monday.
Simmons began the night defending James and ended it leaving the game late in the fourth with a right ankle sprain. Postgame X-rays came back negative and Simmons will be reevaluated Tuesday morning.
James scored 15 — yes, 15 — points in the first seven minutes of the game. He drove the basket early on and set the tone that he was going to attack often.
James has a good relationship with Simmons, who considers James like an older brother through being represented by the same agency. However, there was no way he was going to go easy on the rookie.
James made 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists look easy in 31 minutes.
Simmons, who attempted just 11 shots, had a quiet night with 10 points, eight rebounds and only two rebounds (see story). He entered the game averaging nearly eight dimes. Simmons did not get to the free throw line and went scoreless in the third.
The loss snapped the Sixers’ win streak at three and dropped their record to 11-8. Meanwhile, the streaking Cavs (13-7) ran their win streak to eight straight.
• The Sixers didn’t do themselves any favors with their long-range woes: 3 for 28 (10.7 percent). They shot 0 for 11 from three in the first half and did not drain a trey until over four minutes into the third quarter. Robert Covington, who entered the game shooting 46.2 percent from long range, went 0 for 9 (more on why here).
• In a flashback to their days with the Heat, James (22) and Dwyane Wade (12) combined for 34 of the Cavs’ 53 points in the first half. No one else on the Cavs had more than six points through that point.
• Joel Embiid said my turn in the third. He exploded for 16 points in 11 minutes after scoring 12 total in the first half. Embiid was an efficient 5 for 6 from the field and much more aggressive getting to the line (6 for 7) during the quarter. He matched James’ scoring total with 30 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes (see highlights).
• The game got out of the Sixers’ control in the fourth. They trailed by just three, 72-69, with 3:06 to play in the third. Fast-forward to the final quarter and they were down by as many as 29 points.
• The Sixers had reached 100-plus points in their previous 14 games. The last time they scored in double digits was Oct. 23 against the Pistons, their fourth game of the season.
• The Cavs’ bench outscored the Sixers’ bench, 57-30. Wade (15), Jeff Green (14) and Channing Frye (12) led Cleveland's reserves.
• Injury update: Justin Anderson (left leg), Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) did not play for the Sixers. Derrick Rose (left ankle), Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and Tristan Thompson (left calf) were sidelined for the Cavs.
• Eagles LeGarrette Blount and Malcolm Jenkins rang the ceremonial bell pregame. Blount sat courtside across from the Cavs’ bench where Thomas, dressed in an Allen Iverson shirt, watched the game. Before they were on the Eagles and Cavs, Blount and Thomas were friends from their time with the Patriots and Celtics.