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Nets’ Ben Simmons ejected after controversial call

PHOENIX — On a maddening night for the Nets, one scene encapsulated their frustration better than words ever could.

Ben Simmons got whistled for his fifth foul for a moving pick — one multiple veteran scouts agreed was suspect — then got hit with technical from the bench. Seconds later he got ejected, his night against the Suns over with seven points and six assists.

The Nets went on to lose 117-112 before 17,071 at Footprint Center.

“I think you’re going to call the game like that, then you got to be consistent. I think it’s been like that all year,” Simmons said. “I think if you’re going to call it a moving pick, you got to be consistent on both ends. Same with the holding.”

The Nets were down 73-55, and though the clock read 8:47 left in the third quarter, this contest was long over.

“It’s tough. I’m going to be physical,” Simmons said. “I’m a 6-foot-10 guy who likes to guard certain guys. I’m going to be physical. I’m not going to tone it down because the refs don’t want to see the physicality.

Ben Simmons exits the court after getting ejected in the third quarter of the Nets' 117-112 loss to the Suns.
Ben Simmons exits the court after getting ejected in the third quarter of the Nets’ 117-112 loss to the Suns.

“I’m 6-10, 240, and I’m guarding these guys. It is what it is. There’s obviously going to be certain calls you’ve got to make, but … I don’t know.”

The Nets conceded 41 free throws and took just 25. It has been an ongoing issue, one Jacque Vaughn chalked up to poor defensive positioning to start plays.

Kyrie Irving returned from a one-game absence because of right calf soreness. He didn’t require an MRI exam and both he and the Nets downplayed the injury.

“Just trying to take care of my body for a long term,” Irving said. He also had missed the Nets’ win over the Warriors with a similar injury, but said it wasn’t a nagging or reoccurring issue. “Taking care of my body for the long term. That’s all.”

Vaughn said it was simply Irving listening to his body, and the team listening to their star guard.

“It’s pretty much when an athlete comes to you and say they’re not feeling up to par and you listen to him, whether it was Joe (Harris) at one point this season, whether it was Ben (Simmons) with the late scratch,” said Vaughn. “Ky just reported some tightness and we listened. That’s it.”

Kevin Durant (right MCL sprain) was out, along with David Duke Jr., Kessler Edwards, and Dru Smith all on G League assignment.

Chris Paul didn’t play for Phoenix after he had been questionable with right hip soreness.

Cameron Johnson returned from a right meniscus tear, after missing 37 straight games. He had 19 points and hit 6-of-9 from deep.

But Devin Booker (left groin strain), Landry Shamet (right foot soreness), Cameron Payne (right foot sprain), Josh Okogie (nasal fracture) and Jae Crowder were all out for Phoenix.

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