CLEVELAND -- The 76ers are back to their winning ways after snapping a two-game skid Sunday afternoon with a 128-105 victory over the Cavaliers.
The Sixers (20-11) used a balanced attack with six double-figure scorers and got a lift from Jimmy Butler’s return.
But Ben Simmons’ star shined the brightest against the Cavaliers (7-23). The point guard recorded his third triple-double of the season (his first since Oct. 24 at Milwaukee) and 15th of his career with 22 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, one steal and zero turnovers. He graded out at plus-23. Simmons was dominant from the start, scoring 11 of the Sixers’ first 20 points.
“He’s doing what he always does for us,” Butler said of Simmons. “Passing the ball on target, on time for everybody to be able to be successful.”
The game becomes easier for his teammates when Simmons plays the way he did Sunday: scoring points, passing the ball, and rebounding.
“If he can get constant triple-doubles, we can get constant dubs [wins],” Butler said.
But Simmons put his performance in perspective when asked if this was his best performance of the season.
“Analytically? Numbers-wise? Probably,” he said. "But numbers are numbers. It’s not against the Raptors or Celtics or anything like that. But obviously stat-wise, it looks good.”
This was Simmons' second career triple-double without a turnover. His 15 triple-doubles tie Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul for the seventh-most among active players. Simmons also joins Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson with at least 15 triple-doubles in 111 or fewer games at the start of a career.
“Just do what I can offensively to help my team any way,” Simmons said of his mind-set heading into the game. “Whether that’s finding guys, scoring, rebounding the ball, I’m just trying to do a little bit of everything.”
Simmons had 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds at the half. He got his 10th assist on a Butler running dunk 2:10 into the third quarter and his 10th rebound with 4:05 left in the quarter.
Joel Embiid finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and one block, while playing 28 minutes 41 seconds. And there was reserve guard Landry Shamet, who didn’t miss a shot until 1:35 remained in the game. The rookie guard scored 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting -- including 4-of-5 on three-pointers.
Butler had 19 points, one steal and one block after missing the last two games with a strained groin. The Sixers missed his presence in rare home losses to the Brooklyn Nets (Wednesday) and Indiana Pacers (Friday). The four-time All-Star’s availability for Sunday wasn’t finalized until 30 minutes prior to the game.
Early on, he was basically a bystander. Butler didn’t score a point or attempt a shot in 6:47 of action in the first quarter. His only contribution at that point was a defensive rebound.
His lack of production in the first quarter wasn’t due to needing to get into the flow of things. Butler said he was fine.
“I’m good,” Butler said. "I’m telling you, whenever you are playing with such good guys that cost so much attention, I have the easy job to do the majority of the nights.
“I think the guys are really good at finding me and everybody else.”
But he was more aggressive in the second quarter.
Butler scored on his first shot, which came 13 seconds into the quarter. He was fouled by Jaron Blossomgame on an 8-foot running jumper. Butler made the foul shot to convert the three-point play and pull the Sixers within 36-32.
The 29-year-old missed his second shot -- an 8-foot running floater -- that came 1:16 later. Then after a missed shot, Butler buried a wide-open, corner three-pointer to put the Sixers up, 49-48, with 5:44 left in the half. He finished with seven points in the quarter.
After a three and a dunk (off Simmons' feed) held the Cavaliers at bay to begin the third quarter, Butler’s reverse layup with 8:00 left in the third quarter capped a 12-5 run and gave the Sixers a 77-66 lead.
The Cavs pulled within 86-85 on Larry Nance Jr.'s dunk with 29 seconds left in the quarter. But Wilson Chandler responded with a three-pointer to boost the Sixers' lead back up to four points 21 seconds later. Chandler’s bucket began a 14-0 run that extended into the fourth quarter. The Sixers were in control thereafter.
“It wasn’t planned like that. I had a wide-opened shot,” said Chandler, who finished with 11 points, one game after being held scoreless. “It was big for us, because they came back.”
His basket was the first points scored by the Sixers since the 4:47 mark of the quarter, during which the Cavs went on a 14-2 run.