Ben Simmons returns to help Nets blast Jazz

Mikal Bridges scored 33 points and Ben Simmons posted a double-double in his 18-minute return from a back injury as the Brooklyn Nets pulled away for a 147-114 win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night in New York.

Bridges posted his seventh 30-point game of the season and led eight Brooklyn scorers in double figures by making 12 of 24 shots.

Cam Thomas netted 19 of his 25 points in Brooklyn’s 71-point opening half, while Lonnie Walker IV contributed 19 points and Cameron Johnson had 17 for the game. Dennis Smith Jr. added 12 as the Nets finished with a season-high point total.

Simmons finished with 10 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds after sitting out the previous 38 games. The Nets improved to 28-21 all-time when Simmons has played since being acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers at the 2022 trade deadline.

Simmons did not start but was on the floor when the Nets took control by outscoring Utah 21-8 over the final four-plus minutes of the first quarter.

Brooklyn led 43-28 after 12 minutes of action.

Simmons also helped Brooklyn withstand Utah’s comeback attempt in the third quarter. A basket by John Collins moved the Jazz within 80-70 with 7:41 left, but Simmons later made a strong play on both ends of the floor by intercepting a pass by Lauri Markkanen and coasting in for a dunk to give the Nets a 92-77 lead with 3:25 remaining.

After Simmons checked out with 2:21 left in the period, the Nets took a 104-87 lead into the fourth on a 3 at the horn by Walker.

Brooklyn then sealed the victory when consecutive dunks by Nic Claxton made it 114-89 two minutes into the fourth quarter. Back-to-back hoops by Simmons pushed the Nets’ cushion to 128-102 with 5:36 to go.

The Jazz lost for the fourth time in six games. Rookie Keyonte George scored 21 points and Collins added 15. Utah got quiet showings from Markkanen and Collin Sexton, who combined to shoot 5 of 22 from the field.