Ben Simmons has notched a season-high 20 points to ensure the Philadelphia 76ers maintained space at the top of the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings with a 114-110 win over Detroit.
The Australian playmaker had 16 first-half points and finished with nine rebounds and seven assists in the win on Sunday (AEDT), carrying on from a dominant fourth-quarter performance to eclipse Boston a day earlier.
He was again busy defensively, racing back to slap an airborne shot into the backboard and away from danger as the Pistons attempted to rally late.
The two-time NBA All-Star had been criticised for a lack of offensive aggression this season, but responded with back-to-back starring performances and now boasts a stat line of 12.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game.
He is in the conversation for the NBA’s defensive player of the year honours, but more pressingly has helped the 76ers to a 12-5 start under new coach Doc Rivers.
Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks are the conference’s next-best performing sides with 9-6 records.
Simmons and Joel Embiid (33 points and 14 rebounds) traded free throws in the final 30 seconds to get the 76ers’ home, Embiid notching his 50th performance of more than 30 points and 10 rebounds in the process.
Wayne Ellington scored 17 points for the Pistons (3-13), who led 63-61 at halftime and kept the game competitive despite being without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose.
Elsewhere James Harden (12 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds) celebrated his first win at Brooklyn alongside Kyrie Irving (28 points, seven rebounds and six assists) and Kevin Durant (31 points).
But they were made to sweat against Miami, who were powered by Bam Adebayo (41 points, nine rebounds) in the 128-124 win.
And the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the New Orleans Pelicans 120-110 despite 30 points from Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram.