MINNEAPOLIS – James Harden had just hit a three-pointer after receiving a foul, a move that has been seen countless times by the ten-time All-Star and MVP of 2018. Joel Embiid, his new teammate, raised both hands and found with Harden in the middle of the track for a hug.
Philadelphia enjoyed watching the 3 and Harden finally help the 76ers, and enjoyed the first exhibit of CEO Daryl Morey’s experiment to unite the two stars.
Harden had 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in his 76ers debut, Joel Embiid had 34 points and 10 rebounds, and Philadelphia defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102 on Friday.
“We’re selfless, we just want to win,” Harden said. “We have guys, from top to bottom, who feel that way on the track. Great things are going to happen more often than not. My job is to come in and add to every individual on this team.”
The wait was worth it after Harden lost his first two games with the 76ers after the Brooklyn exchange with a hamstring injury. The results were promising, especially where Embiid and Harden thrive, on the free throw line.
Embiid, who had 21 free throws in a double overtime loss to Minnesota in November, was 11 of 13 from the line. Harden was 8 of 9 while the 76ers were 30 of 36 overall.
“That’s what I expected,” Embiid said, smiling broadly as the two shared a post-match press conference. “I’ve never been so open in my life. Seriously, the passing, I didn’t even expect it and it just came.”
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota by 25 points, and D’Angelo Russell had 21. But the Timberwolves were unable to replicate the spectacular victory in Philadelphia earlier this season.
“The most expensive thing tonight, and maybe not on the statistics sheet, was that we were looking for shortcuts all night,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “We went down, a pass, we tried to make a home run in attack. And most of all, it was our offense that really let us down. “
The 76ers did not have Harden or Ben Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks for Harden in November.
Harden, the 2018 MVP, has not played since February 2 due to injury, which has delayed his partner with Embiid. Philadelphia believes it finally has the top tier duo and a strong third piece in Tobias Harris to make its way into the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers won four of five.
In the first game of Philadelphia after the All-Star break, Embiid controlled the first quarter from the line. He was 7 of 8 on free throws and had 10 points and six rebounds in the fourth.
The 76ers used a 15-0 run to take a 16-6 lead and never lost again.
Minnesota, after a 119-114 win over Memphis the night before, went 51-48 at the end of the second quarter. But Philadelphia closed out the half in a 15-1 run after Mattisse Thybulle had an ax just before the bell rang for a Harris three-pointer.
“I feel like we lost tonight, I feel like we’ve taken steps back,” Russell said. “Tonight, we don’t lose our reason.”
Harden was asked after the game why he may have a reputation as a bad teammate.
“I don’t know why,” Harden said. “That’s for the media. I tell the media. I feel like I’m one of the best teammates the NBA has seen, both on and off the field.”
Several 76ers, including coach Doc Rivers, have talked about Harden’s high level of communication since arriving in Philadelphia. Harden downplayed the trade situation.
“Just because the current situation happened, what happened happened,” Harden said. “It simply came to our notice then. I personally feel like I need to do what’s best for my career, help myself, and be happy. It doesn’t matter if I’m a bad partner or not. “
76ers: Harris only had six points, but his defense over Towns forced an off-night shot for the Timberwolves All-Star. Tyrese Maxey scored 28 … Coach Doc Rivers did not reveal his starting lineup before the game, but Harden started with Embiid, Harris, Maxey and Thybulle. … Philadelphia was 19 of 39 out of 3.
Timberwolves: G Michael Beasley was out with a disease that is not COVID-19. … Minnesota had 16 turnovers, 11 in the first half. … Towns was 3 of 14 from the field to three quarters.
76ers: in New York on Sunday to open a home and home series.
Timberwolves: In Cleveland on Monday night.
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Harden makes his 76ers debut in the Timberwolves victory
Source link Harden makes his 76ers debut in the Timberwolves victory