Ben Simmons Says Rudy Gobert Guarding Him 'Was a Little Bit of Disrespect'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends in the second half during an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 15, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons said he felt disrespected by the Utah Jazz's decision to use center Rudy Gobert as the primary defender on him during Monday night's game.

"I loved when I saw Rudy was guarding me," Simmons, who scored a career-high 42 points in the Sixers' 134-123 loss, told reporters. "I love being able to go at somebody like that. I felt like it was a little bit of disrespect putting him on me, but it is what it is."

Joel Embiid missed the contest with back tightness, so 76ers head coach Doc Rivers opted for a small-ball lineup with 6'7" Mike Scott taking over at center.

That left Gobert, an old-school post player, without a clear defensive matchup. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder opted to put him on Simmons, the least-threatening outside shooter from Philly's starting five.

While the positional differential seemingly irked Simmons, being guarded by a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year probably lands more on the respect side of the scale. Utah didn't have another perfect option available given Embiid's absence.

Regardless, the Sixers star took advantage of the situation. Along with the 42 points, he recorded 12 assists and nine rebounds in 38 minutes.

"There's nights where I feel like I'm dominant but it may not look like a 40-point game, that I might have a triple-double and we might win by 20, whatever the case is," Simmons said. "Or [my impact] might be on defense. Offensively, I definitely have to pick up the slack especially when Jo's out."

His strong individual effort wasn't enough to slow down the Jazz, who've won eight straight games and are an eye-popping 19-1 since a 4-4 start to the 2020-21 season.

Gobert tallied 11 points, nine boards and two blocks in 32 minutes. Jordan Clarkson stole the show for Utah with 40 points off the bench.

"With them saying they believe me, letting me be myself and embracing me, it plays into the whole role of who I am, and that gives me even more confidence," Clarkson told reporters.

Both teams will be in action Wednesday, when the Sixers return home to face the Houston Rockets and the Jazz travel to take on the Los Angeles Clippers in a battle of top Western Conference contenders.