76ers even series with Brooklyn

NBA Roundup

PHILADELPHIA — Ben Simmons had 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers had an answer for the pesky Brooklyn Nets in a 145-123 win to even their Eastern Conference playoff series Monday night.

Simmons had a disastrous Game 1, on the court (nine points) and from a PR perspective after he criticized fans for booing during a game the Sixers were never really in. He backtracked the next day at practice and never gave another 20,591 fans a chance to do anything but roar in approval in Game 2. Simmons flashed the All-Star form that helped lead the Sixers to 51 wins, and was aggressive from tipoff. He used his size and speed to attack the lane and scored 16 points in the half — and then put the game away in the third.

The Sixers busted the game open with a 14-0 run to start the second half and then stretched the lead to 20 on a Simmons steal and fastbreak basket.

Williamson enters draft

DURHAM, N.C. — Zion Williamson is leaving Duke after one high-flying season to enter the NBA draft.

Widely projected as the top overall pick in the June draft, the AP national player of the year announced his decision Monday.

The 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson captivated all of college basketball with his freakish, once-in-a-generation athleticism, his energy at both ends of the floor and his omnipresent charisma.

The Atlantic Coast Conference player and rookie of the year averaged 22.6 points — tied for the league lead with teammate RJ Barrett — and 8.9 rebounds.

Kings hire Walton

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — About five minutes after hearing Luke Walton had been dismissed as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings general manager Vlade Divac called Walton’s agent.

Finalizing the deal that brought Walton to Sacramento as the Kings new coach didn’t take much longer. After getting the call Friday, Walton changed plans to take some time off and flew to Sacramento the following day instead. He agreed to a deal that afternoon and was formally introduced as coach of the Kings.

Hachimura declares

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga star forward Rui Hachimura has declared for the NBA draft.

The junior said Monday he will hire an agent as he pursues a professional career.

The 6-foot-8 native of Japan led Gonzaga in scoring this season with 19.7 points per game while shooting 59% from the field. He was also named the West Coast Conference player of the year.

Virginia guards leaving

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia guards De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome say they are forgoing their final year of eligibility to make themselves available for the NBA draft.

Both made the announcements Monday on Instagram, and their decisions were confirmed by Virginia.

Hunter, a 6-7 redshirt sophomore, was the national champions’ second-leading scorer (15.2 points per game). He was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team selection and the league’s defensive player of the year.

Jerome, a 6-foot-5 junior, was the starting point guard for Cavaliers, but also played some shooting guard. He led the Cavaliers with 202 assists and was second on the team with 79 3-pointers.

Terps’ duo intend to leave

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Maryland sophomore forward Bruno Fernando and junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr. intend to declare for early entry into the 2019 NBA draft.

Coach Mark Turgeon says both players intend to sign with agents who will work with the Maryland coaching staff throughout the process before deciding whether to return to the school.