James Harden didn’t score 100 points, but he did score enough to repel the pesky, upset-minded Knicks on Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center festival.
The Knicks led by 16 points in the first half and were looking to spoil the Sixers’ grand old party that welcomed Harden to Philly for his first home game.
It felt like a playoff atmosphere as Harden went for 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds as the skidding Knicks blew another double-digit lead in the 123-108 defeat.
Harden was making an impact in the locker room too, with Tyrese Maxey revealing words of wisdom that sparked his 21-point second half.
“James Harden asked me at halftime if I was going to play tonight,” Maxey said.
Brutal but effective.
As for the Knicks, it once again ended in defeat despite Julius Randle (24) and RJ Barrett (30 and seven assists) combining for 52 points.
However, Randle scored just 12 points in the final three periods after a 12-point first quarter.
Tom Thibodeau’s team has dropped six straight and are 3-16 in their past 19 contests. Their record dropped to 25-37 as they played their first of seven straight road contests. With 20 games left, the Knicks’ season already feels over.
The Beard ” roared out of the tunnel to a standing ovation during the pregame intros, then the Sixers’ fans cheered Harden every time the former Net touched the ball in the opening minutes.
In the final minute, he waved on the crowd to cheer more as they upped the lead to 16 points and the loudspeaker let out a loud ‘Bing Bong’ ‘sound to taunt the Knicks and their failing mantra.
Harden had plenty of help from his new Philly friends as center Joel Embiid (27 points), emerging former Kentucky guard Maxey (25 points) and Tobias Harris (14 points) were too much for the Knicks’ underwhelming roster lacking a point guard.
Speaking of Embiid, he took a shot at former Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo, referencing a series of burner accounts on Twitter that criticized him and former teammate Markelle Fultz.
“I’ve been through a lot, whether you’re talking about GMs using burner accounts, talking trash on their players,” he said, talking about keeping the culture strong in the group.
That is all in the past though. The drama in New York is in the present.
The Knicks gained a 62-55 halftime lead before they took their foot off the gas in another lousy third quarter that has been their 2021-22 Achilles’ heel.
The Sixers outgunned the Knicks 38-19 in the third quarter as they didn’t defend the 3-point line and a lack of ball movement doomed them offensively. The Sixers finished 17 of 36 from 3-point range.
It was a real stinker for shooting guard Evan Fournier, who can’t sustain anything this season. After scoring 24 against Philly on Sunday, he mounted just 3 points (1 of 8, 0-for-5 from 3) and was benched for the fourth quarter.
This article first appeared on The New York Postand was reproduced with permission.
BUCKS RALLY TO BEAT THE HEAT
Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday drove for a layup with 1.9 seconds left as the NBA champion Bucks rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Eastern Conference leaders Miami 120-119.
Milwaukee out-scored Miami 21-6 down the stretch to halt the Heat’s winning streak at four games.
Khris Middleton drilled a three-pointer with 13.5 seconds to play to pull Milwaukee within one, then superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo forced a jump ball and won it – Holiday ending up with the chance for the game-winner.
Miami had no timeouts left, and Tyler Herro’s desperation three-pointer at the buzzer was off-target.
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and five assists despite being in early foul trouble. Middleton added 26 points and Holiday scored 25 for Milwaukee.
Herro led the Heat with 30 points, Gabe Vincent scored 21 and Bam Adebayo added 18 points with 12 rebounds for Miami, who made 21 of their 44 three-point attempts.
The Heat remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls atop the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are in fourth place, a game behind the third-placed Philadelphia 76ers.
Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon scored 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while handing out eight assists to help the Pacers overcome a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 122-114 overtime win over the Magic in Orlando.
Tyrese Haliburton starred in overtime, scoring 12 of his 21 points in the extra session.
Brogdon, who was kept out of Monday’s loss as he regains his form following a right Achilles injury, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
He missed two shots in overtime, but Haliburton picked up the slack with five points in the extra session that included a three-pointer that gave the Pacers a three-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
NBA SCORES for March 3
Hornets 119, Cavaliers 98
Pacers 122, Magic 114 (OT)
Knicks 108, 76ers 123
Jazz 132, Rockets 127 (OT)
Heat 119, Bucks 120
Kings 95, Pelicans 125
Thunder 119, Nuggets 107
Trail Blazers 90, Suns 120