NBA regular season

Harden’s Sixers debut on hold as Embiid powers Philly past Thunder

Reuters
Harden’s Sixers debut on hold as Embiid powers Philly past Thunder

DO-IT-ALL. Sixers center Joel Embiid drives for a shot past Thunder big man Derrick Favors.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Joel Embiid posts his 22nd straight game with at least 25 points as the Sixers play their first match since the blockbuster trade that sent Ben Simmons to the Nets for James Harden

Philadelphia 76ers fans will need to wait at least a few games before star guard James Harden takes the court with his new team.

Acquired Thursday in a trade-deadline deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has been nursing a strained hamstring and hasn’t played since February 2. He is due to arrive in Philadelphia this weekend, at which point he’ll be examined by the team’s medical staff.

Joel Embiid, though, again took care of things as the Sixers star dropped 25 points, 19 rebounds, 5 blocked shots, and 4 assists to lift the host Philadelphia past the Oklahoma City Thunder, 100-87, on Friday, February 11 (Saturday, February 12, Manila time).

It was Embiid’s 22nd straight game with at least 25 points.

Tyrese Maxey added 24 points and Tobias Harris contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds. Matisse Thybulle chipped in with 10 points.

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The 76ers got Harden and forward Paul Millsap in exchange for fellow guards Simmons and Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks.

Simmons didn’t suit up for the 76ers this season, disgruntled with the team and wanting out. Harden’s displeasure with the Nets had grown, and with his free agency pending this summer, the Nets got a bounty in return by trading him instead of watching him walk away.

Second-year guard Maxey said he welcomes the restart with the 32-year-old Harden, whom he grew up watching, and MVP candidate Joel Embiid.

“It’s going to be great,” Maxey said. “It’s two MVP-caliber players on top of what we have here already… I just can’t wait.”

On the season, Harden has played in 44 games, averaging 22.5 points. He led the Nets with 10.2 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game.

Since the players haven’t finalized their physicals, the 76ers played without their new acquisitions and traded players, leaving them shorthanded.

The game was tight throughout the first half as Josh Giddey hit a short banker for a 38-36 Thunder lead with 1:54 to play in the second quarter.

The 76ers made a late push and led 46-41 at halftime thanks in large part to Embiid’s 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Derrick Favors led the Thunder with 16 points while Lu Dort and Aleksej Pokusevski added 15 each. Darius Bazley also had 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Oklahoma City dropped its fourth in a row.

Dort paced the Thunder with 11 points in the first half.

Philadelphia came out aggressive in the third and went ahead 57-45 after a layup by Harris with 9:15 remaining in the quarter.

Embiid extended the advantage to 62-47 when he drove to the basket and scored while sprawling to the floor.

Oklahoma City scored consecutive baskets to get within 11 and 76ers coach Doc Rivers called timeout with 6:25 to go.

Embiid added 11 points in the third and the 76ers led 77-61 at the end of the quarter.

After a 9-2 run, the Thunder got within 87-75 midway through the fourth. Bazley then threw down a dunk with 4:36 left and the deficit was 10.

Theo Maledon hit a three-pointer with 2:41 left and the Thunder trailed 88-82.

Harris responded with a trey and Maxey hit a driving layup and the lead was pushed to 11. – Rappler.com