Ben Simmons makes quick impact in return to Nets, gets 6 assists in first quarter

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons practices during a training session on the eve of the NBA basketball game between Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Simmons made an immediate impact in his first game in nearly three months for the Brooklyn Nets, getting six assists in five minutes off the bench in the first quarter against Utah.

Simmons hadn't played since Nov. 6, sitting out the last 38 games because of a pinched nerve in his lower back.

The No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft came off the bench midway through the opening quarter for the first of what was expected to be short stints in just his seventh game this season. He had his first assist just six seconds after entering, leading a fast break and passing to Royce O'Neale for a 3-pointer.

Simmons assisted on four straight baskets later in the period and the Nets outscored the Jazz by 12 points while he was on the floor. Brooklyn led 43-28 after one quarter.

Simmons has dealt with back injuries since the Nets acquired him from Philadelphia nearly two years ago. The Nets originally thought his injury in November was in his left hip, before determining it was caused by an impingement in his lower back.