Ben Simmons scored a career playoff-high 31 points, Tobias Harris added 29 points and 16 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers shook off the absence of Joel Embiid to beat the Brooklyn Nets 131-115 on Thursday night for a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.

Without their All-Star man in the middle, the 76ers relied on Simmons slashing to the basket, and Harris and JJ Redick shooting from the perimeter.

Simmons was 11 for 13 from the field, repeatedly getting to the rim even with the Nets sagging well off him in hopes he would shoot a jumper. He added nine assists and eventually quieted a crowd that loudly booed him every time he touched the ball early.

Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris (33) passes away from Brooklyn Nets' Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) during the second half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (33) passes away from Brooklyn Nets’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) during the second half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Harris had his playoff highs in both points and rebounds, and was 6 for 6 from 3-point range. Redick was 5 of 9 behind the arc and finished with 26 points.

Embiid warmed up before the game but the 76ers announced shortly before the start that the All-Star center wouldn’t be available because of a sore left knee. Greg Monroe started in his place and had nine points and 13 rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert each scored 26 points for the Nets, who have dropped the last two games after surprising the No. 3 seed in the opener in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid watches during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid watches during the first half in Game 3 of the team’s first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Energized by a lively Brooklyn crowd seeing playoff basketball for the first time since 2015 and perhaps by the absence of Embiid, who averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in the first two games, the Nets started well but then stalled. They went about 4 1/2 minutes without a basket and Philadelphia took advantage to lead 32-24 after one.

The lead quickly went into double digits in the second before LeVert got going. He scored six straight points and had Brooklyn’s first 14 of the period to tie it at 38. The 76ers regained control and opened an 11-point lead with about 2 1/2 minutes remaining before halftime, but LeVert had another burst to cut Philadelphia’s lead to 65-59 at the break. He finished with 19 points in the period.

Redick hit a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around Harris’ three-point play, pushing it to 81-67, and another 3 by Redick had the Sixers leading 97-81 with 1:16 left in the third. But a four-point play by Spencer Dinwiddie highlighted Brooklyn’s run of nine straight points to end the period and trim it to 97-90.

Philadelphia 76ers' JJ Redick (17) looks to pass the ball away from Brooklyn Nets' Ed Davis (17) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ JJ Redick (17) looks to pass the ball away from Brooklyn Nets’ Ed Davis (17) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Nets cut it to six in the fourth on Russell’s 3-pointer, but the 76ers soon pulled away again.

TIP-INS

76ers: Simmons was 5 for 5 on free throws when the Nets fouled him intentionally with 3:38 remaining. He missed both, but hit two on the next possession and finished 9 for 11. … Monroe didn’t even make his Sixers debut until April 6.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown, right, talks to Jimmy Butler during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown, right, talks to Jimmy Butler during the first half in Game 3 of the team’s first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Nets: Brooklyn was 8 for 39 (20.5 from 3-point range. … LeVert’s 19 points were the most he scored in any quarter of his career. … The Nets had won their last three Game 3s.

UP NEXT

Game 4 is Saturday in Brooklyn.

Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris (33) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Joe Harris (12) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (33) shoots over Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris (12) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris (33) drives past Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell (1) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (33) drives past Brooklyn Nets’ D’Angelo Russell (1) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons (25) shoots over Brooklyn Nets’ Jarrett Allen (31) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers' JJ Redick, left, shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie (8) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Philadelphia 76ers’ JJ Redick, left, shoots over Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie (8) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)