NBA playoffs

James Harden ejected in Sixers’ heated win over Nets


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James Harden ejected in Sixers’ heated win over Nets

INTENSE. Nets center Nic Claxton taunts 76ers forward Tobias Harris during Game 3.

Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

The Sixers survive the ejection of James Harden and a sluggish performance by Joel Embiid to move within a win of a playoff sweep of the Nets

Tyrese Maxey dropped 25 points, including the tiebreaking three-pointer with 44.7 seconds remaining, as the Philadelphia 76ers withstood the ejection of James Harden, a sluggish performance by Joel Embiid, and outlasted the host Brooklyn Nets in a 102-97 victory in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Thursday, April 20 (Friday, April 21, Manila time).

The 76ers, now up 3-0, can eliminate the Nets Saturday afternoon in Game 4 thanks to Maxey, who followed up his 33-point performance in Game 2 by snapping a 96-96 tie.

With 55 seconds left, Embiid missed a 17-footer but De’Anthony Melton grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled by Dorian Finney-Smith with 52 seconds left. 

Following a Philadelphia timeout, Maxey went around a screen, took a step back along the left side and hit a 26-footer three-pointer over Spencer Dinwiddie for a 99-96 lead.

After Maxey’s shot, Dinwiddie split two at the line with 39 seconds left, and Maxey missed a 19-footer with 17.7 seconds left. 

Royce O’Neale grabbed the defensive rebound and Dinwiddie drove through the left side of the lane only to be met by Embiid, who blocked the shot with 8.8 seconds left.

Philadelphia iced it as PJ Tucker hit a free throw and Melton dunked with 5.4 seconds left after intercepting O’Neale’s inbounds pass.

Harden thrown out, Embiid escapes

Harden scored 21 before being ejected for committing a flagrant 2 foul when he elbowed O’Neale late in the third quarter. 

It was originally whistled an offensive foul, but after officials reviewed the play, Harden was ejected when the call was upgraded.

The Nets held an 80-76 lead when Harden was tossed. He scored 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting in 29 minutes.

In the opening moments of the game, Philadelphia star Joel Embiid escaped ejection. 

Embiid finished with 14 and 10 rebounds and played the final five-plus minutes with five fouls after being allowed to stay in when he kicked Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton in the groin area early in the first quarter.

With 9:34 remaining in the first quarter, Claxton dunked over Embiid to finish off an alley-oop from Mikal Bridges. 

As Claxton stepped over Embiid, he was kicked in the groin area by Embiid’s left foot.

After reviewing the play, Claxton was handed a technical foul while Embiid was assessed a flagrant 1 foul.

Claxton was ejected with 8:48 remaining in the fourth quarter after getting his second technical following a dunk that gave Brooklyn an 87-81 lead.

Claxton finished with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor in 28 minutes.

Losing streak

Tobias Harris added 15 and Melton finished with 13 for the Sixers, who shot 48.8%.

Mikal Bridges led all scorers with 26 points but shot 9-of-26 and was 1-of-5 in the fourth when the Nets were held to 15 points. 

Dinwiddie added 20 for the Nets, who shot 43% and saw their postseason losing streak reach nine games.

Brooklyn overcame a 13-point deficit early in the third and took an 82-76 lead into the fourth. The Nets led 96-91 on O’Neale’s putback with 2:15 left.

Before Brooklyn rallied in the third, Philadelphia overcame an early eight-point deficit and held a 58-47 lead by halftime. –

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