The Houston Rockets defeated the 76ers in their final meeting, and James Harden outplayed Joel Embiid en route to his second 50 point triple-double of the season.
To start things out, I’d like to provide you with a list of players in NBA history who’ve put up multiple 50-point triple-doubles in a season: James Harden. That’s it. Adding to his MVP resume, the Beard played probably his second best game of the season. He finished the night with 51 points, 13 assists, and 13 rebounds, while shooting better than 50% from three and overall. He also added 2 steals and a block for good measure. James Harden is so, so good.
Rockets fans, appreciate the fact that arguably the best basketball player in the world is on your favorite team. That doesn’t happen very often. After Harden is gone, I probably won’t be able to make that claim for the rest of my life.
Okay, back to the game. For the first 34 seconds of this matchup, it looked as if the Philadelphia 76ers had control. After winning the tip, Joel Embiid wasted no time driving through the lane and putting Nene on a poster. As expected, this caused an uproar on Twitter.
Before fans even got to properly react to such a dunk, Nene exacted his revenge with a dunk of his own. From then on, the Rockets were in control. The only blemish on the first half was that the team turned the ball over a ridiculous 17 times. Even still, they went into halftime tied at 61.
Houston led for the vast majority of the game, but it remained close for its entirety. Admittedly, I hadn’t watched much of The Process until this game, and boy was I missing out. Embiid was wonderful, scoring 32 points along with 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The 7’2″ rookie also notably shot 4/6 from beyond the arc and 11/20 overall.
Other than Embiid playing well, the best thing that the Sixers did this game was prevent three point attempts. They refused to help off of shooters, causing Houston to throw up almost 9 fewer long bombs than their average. The problem that this caused for Philly, though, was that it left the lane with just one defender at times.
When Harden’s man was screened, it created a situation where Embiid or Nerlens Noel would have have to choose between allowing a Bearded runner or a dunk from Clint Capela or Nene. The result was that Houston’s two big men combined for 38 points on 17/24 shooting. It was good to see the team play well, despite being denied their go-to shot all game long.
One of the reasons that the Rockets didn’t get a lot of threes off was the fact that Eric Gordon didn’t suit up. He’s now missed two games in a row with lower back tightness. He has a history of missing time with strange injuries, so it’s a bit unsettling to see him in street clothes. The spacing that he creates with his long range accuracy is something the Rockets will miss dearly in the near future if he continues to sit.
After a day off, the Rockets will continue their road trip against the Indiana Pacers. That’s a team that has been strangely disappointing thus far this season, but Paul George is always capable of putting up big numbers.