I can’t say I had the highest of hopes for a 76ers win tonight against the Houston Rockets. Sure, it’s the home of Chamillionaire which means it’s a magical land, but the Rockets have a guy in James Harden who started the season putting up monster numbers and the Sixers don’t posses anybody who can effectively guard him. This was evident early and often as the Rockets cruised to a 115-88 win.
Thanks to the first quarter effort from Harden, the Rockets went on an offensive tear to start the game and never let the margin get close after that. It didn’t matter who Brett Brown went with on the Rockets point guard, Harden had his way with every single one of them on his way to a 23 point (23 POINT?!?!) first quarter, hitting 100% of the shots he took in that timeframe. This is like the opposite of that overused Wayne Gretzky quote. Things like that are bound to happen when the guy that was planned to guard him, Robert Covington, gets two quick fouls and the next options to take on that task are Hollis Thompson and TJ McConnell.
The Sixers were matching the Rockets bucket for bucket early on but once Joel Embiid hit the bench, things went spiraling out of control and they could never recover. And no, I’m not referring to when Embiid literally hit the bench, diving to attempt to save a loose ball from going out of bounds. I love you Joel, please don’t do that ever again. My heart just cannot take it.
Despite turning the ball over less than five times in the first half, the Sixers went into the break down thirteen points, with only one player posting a positive plus/minus. That player was Joel Embiid and he was at a +6. Remember that for later.
Along came the second half and once Harden stopped annihilating the Sixers on his own, teammates Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon took the reigns combining to go 9-18 from beyond the arc, making sure the outcome of this game was never in doubt. Add this one to the ever growing list of games which Ariza looks like an all-star against the Sixers. It’s behind the Brandon Bass file.
With a 25 point margin going into the final frame, the fourth quarter was just going through the motions as the Rockets coasted to their 27 point win over our Sixers.
Some things that should be pointed out:
- That was, to my memory, the worst game I’ve ever seen Jahlil Okafor play. Remember when Embiid finished the half with a +6 rating? During that same span, Okafor managed to be 25 points different on the other, posting a superb -19. He was 1-9 from the floor and was getting destroyed by the Rockets interior, specifically Clint Capela. He did not see the floor again until the fourth quarter. The backup center minutes he saw in the first half went to Richaun Holmes in the third quarter.
- Joel Embiid wasn’t great but still managed 13 points and 10 rebounds in the blowout loss. He was, however, responsible for half the teams’ turnovers (6 personally, 12 for the team) which have got to come down.
- Robert Covington was never able to get into a groove after getting into early foul trouble and couldn’t continue his recent success from the three-point line, ending the night 1-6.
- At one point midway through the third quarter, the Rockets had double the amount of turnovers as the Sixers yet still led by 29. I’m no statistician but that can’t be a regular occurrence, can it? Where’s Derek when you need him?
It was a fairly predictable loss and one that isn’t worth getting too upset over. It’s on to the next one which according to the internet is on Wednesday as the Sixers return to Philly to take on the Washington Wizards. Will that be a win? Sure, let’s say it will be.