James Harden watched as his free throw try flew off the rim and didn’t push the 76ers’ one-point result in three with lower than 30 seconds to play in additional time.
However the star guard, recognized for his offensive prowess, made up for him on the… defensive finish of the ground?
Harden’s two-armed block on Indiana Pacers rookie Benedict Mathurin on the sting helped salvage the Sixers’ 129-126 victory Wednesday evening on the Wells Fargo Heart, capping off a roaring evening after they constructed a double-digit lead under rival MVP Joel Embiid after which staged their very own rally to pressure additional time and finish the sport. One of many stunning groups within the Jap Convention.
“I needed to cease and simply attempt to play the ball,” Harden stated shortly after releasing “Oh, Shush” with an exhale. “They’re enjoying very quick. … There is no relaxation time. There is no breaks or something.
“Video games like that, you simply win the sport and hold transferring ahead.”
The Sixers (23-14) took the lead for good when, after De’Anthony Melton’s cornerback triple, Montrezl Harrell collected the ball when Tyrese Maxey’s strive went out and met his thunderous dunk with a ferocious whoop that put the Sixers up 127-124 with lower than two minutes to play. within the further body.
A Tyrese Haliburton finger roll lower that cushion to 1 level, however the Sixers protection held it the remainder of the best way. Tobias Harris adopted Harden’s hurdle as I made two free throws, and a determined Buddy Hield swung a three-pointer with lower than a second to go large.
After letting a 13-point lead slip within the second half, the Sixers wanted a frantic strategy to regulation to get into additional time. Trailing 120-116 after a layup by Miles Turner with lower than a minute to play, Maxie slammed a steal that led to the layup breakaway, and after one other turnover, Harris adopted Maxie’s foul on the sting to tie the rating with 6.1 seconds to play. Hield missed the lead float on the buzzer.
With out the NBA’s second main scorer in Embiid, seven Sixers completed with double figures to file their eleventh win of their previous 13 video games.
Harden led the Sixers with 26 factors, 8 assists and 6 rebounds, whereas Harrell scored a season-high 19 factors on 8-of-9 from the ground and added 5 rebounds and 4 blocks. Milton and Harris additionally scored 19 factors, whereas Maxi added 17, Shek Melton 13 and George Niang 11.
“These are the video games and the occasions when you understand who your workforce is,” Harden stated of enjoying with out Embiid for the ninth time this season. “…Are you simply going to make up the excuse, or are you going to maintain transferring ahead with it? We did a very good job of getting it by way of.”
The Sixers led 97-84 on the finish of the third quarter, after Maxey reached the basket for a drive stoppage within the dying seconds. However the Pacers (21-18) outscored the Sixers 36-23 within the fourth quarter, together with a 16-3 run that turned an 11-point deficit right into a 115-113 lead when Held buried consecutive three-pointers and the Mathewsin basket was counted out as a result of a routing name with lower than Three minutes to play.
Hield completed with 24 factors on 6-of-14 from three-point vary, whereas Mathurin added 19 factors off the bench, and Haliburton performed a triple-double with 16 factors, 12 assists, and 7 rebounds.
The Sixers completed this three-game dwelling run Friday evening towards the Chicago Bulls earlier than enjoying the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon.
With Embiid eradicated and minutes free to strengthen, Maxi was again within the beginning lineup for the primary time since breaking his left foot. He is put up a profession greatest in his three video games thus far, including six assists and 5 rebounds to his 6-16 capturing efficiency.
“It is coming,” Rivers stated of Maxi’s return to kind. “You’ll be able to see…he might be again very quickly.”
Nevertheless, Maxi had not but absolutely returned to his unique spin. He performed the primary six minutes of the primary quarter, then got here again late within the interval to make a degree on the second unit consisting of Milton, Mathis Thibul, Niang and Harrell. Throughout that point, he hit a spinning jumper, took a looping cross to Harrell for a dunk, and located Niang for an open three-pointer. However he did not shut out the primary half with the remainder of the important thing gamers.
Maxey was influential early within the third quarter, hitting a three-pointer, discovering Harden for a deep shot, and driving laborious to the basket. A layup within the closing seconds of the third quarter put the Sixers forward, 97–84.
He ran the identical set early within the fourth, offering a rebounding cross to Thybulle that gave the Sixers a 101-90 benefit and hitting a birdie to place his workforce up, 106-94, earlier than making his impression down the stretch.
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The Sixers are getting small with out Embiid, Rivers stated, with Tucker beginning at heart and three guards (Harden, Maxie and Milton) alongside Harris making an attempt to match Indiana’s velocity.
Nevertheless, Harrell was their simplest man – as evidenced by his coach’s choice to get him again on Tucker whereas defending the Sixers by one level with lower than 4 minutes to play within the platform.
“He was giving us each ends,” Rivers stated of Harrell. “So I believed he was the appropriate man.”
Within the first half, Harrell went 5-for-5—together with an finish by two tackles and a celebratory flex—for 12 factors. His bucket feed from Harris late within the third quarter pushed the Sixers’ result in 93-84. His dunk within the fourth quarter gave the Sixers a 108-96 benefit with eight minutes left within the sport, earlier than he turned and blocked within the closing two minutes of additional time.
“I simply play as laborious as I can,” Harrell stated. “I simply do all of the little issues that I do know I can do. Nothing is totally different from any of my different exercises, my regimens, every other approach I strategy the sport.
“I deal with the sport to play prefer it’s my final sport. I go away every thing there simply enjoying the appropriate approach, as a result of, 9 occasions out of 10, the basketball gods reward that.”
Rivers stated the early inclusion of Harrell was as a result of Tucker left the sport within the first quarter with an obvious leg harm when he took his knee to the groin, and fell to the ground underneath the basket. After a stint within the locker room and on the stationary bike close to the Sixers’ bench, Tucker returned with about seven minutes to play within the second quarter.
Tucker missed all 4 of his pictures—together with a float that was large earlier than the harm and a wide-open nook triple after his return—however grabbed seven rebounds in 25 minutes. He was the one participant to not attain double figures.
Already coping with a pinched nerve arising in his neck affecting his proper hand, Tucker pressured him out for a loss on Dec. 27 in Washington. He additionally missed a December 31 win on the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder — the second evening of a back-to-back sport — to handle a knee harm after having arthroscopic surgical procedure over the summer season.