'Should be ejected': Ben Simmons hard foul sparks NBA debate

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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A hard foul on John Collins earned Australian NBA star Ben Simmons a flagrant foul during the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Ben Simmons was handed a flagrant foul for his hard foul on Atlanta's John Collins in game four of the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Pictures: Getty Images/TNT

The Atlanta Hawks have equalled their playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers 2-2 after an entertaining 103-100 victory in game four.

The series will return to Philadelphia for game five on Thursday the Hawks fought back from a first half deficit behind Trae Young's 25 points and 18 assists.

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76ers star Ben Simmons was involved in controversy however, with his hard foul on Atlanta's John Collins compared to Nikola Jokic's ejection-worthy flagrant foul against Phoenix on Sunday.

Collins caught the ball on a fast break midway through the third quarter, and was about to jump for a dunk when Simmons swooped in, chopping Collins' arms and wrapping him up.

Simmons avoided hitting Collins in the face, a point of difference between his shot and Jokic's, but fans were nevertheless quick to make the comparison.

The Hawks were trailing by eight at the time, with the resultant free throws helping them close the gap again.

Some fans believed Simmons' foul was more dangerous, since Collins was already in the air when the Australian star arrived on the scene.

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Young scored or assisted Atlanta's final 15 points, including four straight free throws to seal the victory. 

He found his way to 25 points on 8-for-26 shooting and doled out 18 assists against just two turnovers. All five Hawks starters reached double digits. 

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Bogdan Bogdanovic added 22 points, and both Collins (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Clint Capela (12 points, 13 rebounds) recorded double-doubles in the comeback win.

After falling behind 98-94 with 2:44 left, Young drew the Sixers defence and found Collins for a 3-pointer in the corner. 

Young then scored four straight on back-to-back possessions on either side of the one-minute mark, giving the Hawks a 101-98 advantage with 49.6 seconds on the clock.

Two Embiid free throws made it a one-point game, and an Atlanta 24-second violation gave the Sixers a chance at the win. 

A rolling Embiid could not get his layup to go, and Ben Simmons failed to secure his chance at the offensive rebound. 

Young knocked down the free throws to push the lead back to 103-100 with 16.6 seconds to go, and a Seth Curry 3-point attempt at the buzzer only got the back of the rim.

The Hawks got a third-quarter boost from Collins, whose three dunks after halftime willed the Atlanta crowd into the game. 

His teammates followed suit, cutting a 13-point deficit to two by quarter's end, and Bogdan Bogdanovic's 3-pointer to start the fourth gave the Hawks their first lead since the opening seven minutes.

Sixers reserve Shake Milton provided a jolt, as he did in Game 2, scoring eight straight to take back a 92-88 lead with nine minutes left, but the Hawks never ceased competing. 

Layups from Young and Bogdanovic kickstarted a 6-0 run that Capela capped with a vicious alley-oop dunk, setting up the season-saving finish.

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