In a rout of the Timberwolves, Harden makes his 76ers debut.
James Harden had just nailed a stepback 3-pointer while being fouled, a play the 10-time All-Star and 2018 MVP had done numerous times. Harden’s new teammate, Joel Embiid, lifted both hands and hugged him at midcourt.
Harden’s 3-and-ones eventually helped the 76ers, and the first exposure of general manager Daryl Morey‘s experiment to pair the two stars paid off for the Sixers.
Harden scored 27 points, had 12 assists, and eight rebounds in his 76ers debut, while Joel Embiid added 34 points and 10 rebounds as Philadelphia defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102.
Harden added, “We’re not self-centered; all we want to do is win.” From top to bottom, we’ve got guys that feel that way on the floor. More often than not, wonderful things will occur. My role is to come in and bring value to each member of this group. “
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The wait was well worth it after missing his first two games with the 76ers following his trade from Brooklyn due to a hamstring ailment. The results were encouraging, especially at the free-throw line, where Embiid and Harden excelled.
Embiid made 11 of 13 free throws after making 21 in a double-overtime defeat to Minnesota in November. Harden was 8 of 9 from the field, and the 76ers finished with a record of 30 of 36.
“That’s exactly what I anticipated,” Embiid remarked as the two sat at a postgame news conference table together. “This is the most open I’ve ever been in my life.” Seriously, the passing, as though I hadn’t expected it and it simply happened. “
Minnesota was led by Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 25 points, and D’Angelo Russell, who had 21. The Timberwolves, though, were unable to repeat their thrilling victory in Philadelphia earlier this season.
Minnesota coach Chris Finch remarked, “The most costly thing today, and it might not be on the stat sheet, was that we were searching for shortcuts all night long.” “We come down and attempt to create a home run play on offence with one throw.” And, in the end, it was our offensive that let us down the most. “
In November, the 76ers were without Harden and Ben Simmons, who had been sold to Brooklyn for Harden along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draught selections.
Due to the injury, Harden, the 2018 MVP, hadn’t played since February 2, postponing his teaming with Embiid. Philadelphia feels it has found the top-level pair it needs, as well as a quality third component in Tobias Harris, to break through in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers have won four of their last five games.
From the line, Embiid dominated the first quarter of Philadelphia’s first game after the All-Star break. In the third quarter, he scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds on 7-of-8 free throw shooting.
The 76ers went on a 15-0 run to go up 16-6 and never looked back.
After defeating Memphis 119-114 the night before, Minnesota drew to 51-48 late in the second quarter.However, when Mattisse Thybulle scored a putback dunk just before the buzzer after a missed 3-pointer by Harris, Philadelphia went on a 15-1 run to end the half.
“I feel like we went steps backwards tonight with the manner in which we lost,” Russell remarked. “We didn’t lose right tonight.”
After the game, Harden was questioned about why he has a reputation for being a lousy teammate.
“I’m not sure why,” Harden explained. “It’s for the press.” That is what the media claims. On and off the court, I believe I’m one of the finest teammates the NBA has ever seen. “
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Since arriving in Philadelphia, several 76ers players, including coach Doc Rivers, have praised Harden’s high level of communication. Harden talked about the significance of the move.
“Whatever occurred happened because of the existing situation,” Harden stated. “That doesn’t make me a poor teammate.” Personally, I felt compelled to do what was best for my work, as well as to assist myself and be happy. It’s not about whether or not I’m a lousy teammate. “
76ers: Harris only had six points, but his defence on Towns led the Timberwolves All-Star to have a bad shooting night. Tyrese Maxey had a total of 28 points. Coach Doc Rivers refused to announce his starting lineup before the game, yet Harden, Embiid, Harris, Maxey, and Thybulle all started. Philadelphia finished 19th out of 39 teams.
Timberwolves Due to a non-COVID-19 sickness, Michael Beasley was unable to play. Minnesota committed 16 turnovers, including 11 in the first half. Through three quarters, Towns was 3 of 14 from the field.
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