The Philadelphia 76ers shut down the New York Knicks in the fourth quarter and pulled away to a victory to help celebrate the triumphant return of James Harden to New York City after the Brooklyn Nets shipped him to the 76ers before the trade deadline in exchange for Ben Simmons. Harden dropped a triple-double against the Knicks with 29 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds.
Simmons has yet to suit up for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s now nursing a sore back, which occurred during workouts with his new team. His future status is unknown.
76ers 2-0 with Harden
In the meantime, Harden appeared in two games with the 76ers after suiting up for his new team for the first time after the All-Star Break. The 76ers are 2-0 in games that Harden played. He missed a triple-double in his debut with 27 points, 12 assists, and 8 rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday evening. The 76ers destroyed the Timberwolves in a 29-point blowout.
More importantly, Harden knocked down five 3-pointers in his debut with the 76ers, which equaled the same amount of 3-pointers that Simmons made in 275 career games spanning four seasons with Philadelphia.
With a 37-23 record, the 76ers moved into the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. They trail the #1 Miami Heat by 2.5 games. The 76ers are +700 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship, according to a recent update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.
Embiid Hits 23 Free Throws
With the Knicks having 0.1% chance to qualify for the postseason according to FiveThirtyEight, most of the tickets were resold to 76ers fans, who made the trek up from Philadelphia and southern New Jersey to watch Harden dazzling the MSG crowd with a triple-double.
“Tonight felt like we were in Philly,” said Harden. “But that crowd, it’s going to be turned up in there and I’m ready for it.”
Harden dished 16 assists and even added five steals in the win against the Knicks. However, his 29 points were minor compared to a stunning performance from Joel Embiid. Embiid, the NBA’s leading scorer averaging 29.8 ppg, lit up the Knicks for 37 points and 9 rebounds. Embiid shot 7-for-18 from the floor, including four missed 3-pointers. Without the trey attempts, he shot 50% from inside the arc at MSG.
Embiid padded his scoring total at the charity stripe by shooting 23-for-27. That set a personal career high for Embiid, but also set the NBA high mark for this season. Overall, the 76ers were mauled by the Knicks and they made 39 free throws as a team, which also set a record in the NBA this season.
“Unstoppable,” said Embiid about his new union with Harden.
With the ugly loss and fourth-quarter implosion, the Knicks extended their losing streak to five games in a row. The hapless Knicks are now 1-9 in their last 10 games.