Stacy Bengs Harden finished with 27 points and 12 assists.
Philly Special

James Harden shines on 76ers debut as Philadelphia rout Minnesota

The Sixers beat the Timberwolves 133-102 on Friday night.

JAMES HARDEN DID not disappoint in his highly anticipated debut with the Philadelphia 76ers, scoring 27 points and handing out 12 assists in the Sixers’ 133-102 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Harden, the NBA’s 2018 MVP, was playing his first game with his new team since arriving in Philadelphia from the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade for Ben Simmons at the trade deadline on 10 February.

Recently sidelined by a hamstring injury, Harden made up for lost time with an impressive offensive display that included a trademark step-back three-pointer late in the first half on which he drew a foul from Minnesota’s Jarred Vanderbilt and converted the free throw to complete the four-point play.

He converted another four-point play in the fourth quarter to push the Sixers’ lead to 24 points, getting a hug from new teammate Joel Embiid.

Even before the contest, Embiid had plenty of good things to say about Philadelphia’s prized acquisition.

“He’s a great person, a great personality,” Embiid said. “Always smiling. Fun to be around. His presence — on the team, and on the floor — has really changed us a lot since he got here.”

Embiid was even happier after playing his first game alongside Harden.

“He was making plays for all of us,” Embiid said. “That was probably as wide-open as I’ve been in my entire career. The shot-making ability, shot creation, you should’ve seen my face … We’ve never had this, nothing close to this.”

Harden, a three-time NBA scoring champion, said he would be happy to be cast in the role of playmaker alongside MVP candidate Embiid if that is what will help the 76ers win.

“I am willing to do whatever,” Harden said. “We have one common goal. I have nothing to prove individually. As a unit, I think we have something to prove.”

Embiid led the 76ers with 34 points and 10 rebounds and Tyrese Maxey added 28 points for Philadelphia, who are third in the East and hoping Harden’s arrival can help them challenge for the top spot now shared by the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls.

The Heat kept pace with the Bulls with a 115-100 victory over the Knicks in New York.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers let another victory slip away late, falling to their LA rivals the Clippers 105-102.

The LeBron James-led Lakers, who have won just three of their last 10 games, rallied from a 16-point deficit and trailed by one with four seconds remaining when Carmelo Anthony missed a deep three-pointer.

James missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired, finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds to see his streak of games with at least 25 points end at 23.

In the surprise of the night, CJ McCollum scored 32 points to lead the New Orleans Pelicans to a 117-102 victory over the league-leading Phoenix Suns.

In Salt Lake City, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell hit a career-high seven three-pointers on the way to 33 points in the Jazz’s 114-109 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

San Antonio guard Dejounte Murray, coming off his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, produced a triple-double of 31 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists to help the Spurs hold off the Washington Wizards 157-153 in double overtime.

– © AFP 2022

Gavan Casey is joined by Bernard Jackman and Murray Kinsella to look ahead to Italy, chat about the provinces’ latest signings, and remember ‘Inga the Winga’.

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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