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Sixers Bell Ringer: Another stellar James Harden performance falls short in loss

The Beard dominated, but the rest of the team couldn’t follow his lead.

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Sixers regular season Bell Ringer standings

James Harden - 1

To commence their 41-game home slate, the Philadelphia 76ers welcomed the Milwaukee Bucks to Wells Fargo Center on Thursday evening. A lackluster shooting night and performance from Joel Embiid prevented them from completing a second-half comeback. In a game that went down to the final 30 seconds, Milwaukee won, 90-88. James Harden played like a superstar for the second consecutive game. De’Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker provided crucial minutes. It’s time to talk Bell Ringer. Let’s get to it.

James Harden - 31 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, two steals, one block

In the first half, Harden primarily played the role of facilitator, sprinkling in a few buckets, but typically aiming to set up teammates ahead of himself. He whirled out a handful of savvy assists before prioritizing his scoring gene following intermission, when he morphed into a floater and midrange maestro. He scored or assisted on the Sixers’ first eight points out of the break, including a pair of runners.

When Milwaukee entered the fourth holding a 73-63 lead, Harden repeatedly muscled his way into open midrange jumpers and scored 16 of his 31 points in the frame. He scored or assisted on 20 of Philadelphia’s 25 fourth-quarter points. That midrange pull-up and stepback is a newfound weapon he’s evidently comfortable with.

Most of his scoring barrages last season were fueled by torrid outside shooting, but he went 1-of-7 beyond the arc and 12-of-17 inside the arc in this one, an encouraging sign. He also was livelier on defense than Tuesday, despite some breakdowns nonetheless. He’s been a total superstar through two games.

P.J. Tucker: Five points, five rebounds, two steals, one block, one assist

The veteran swingman only scored five points, but he was donning that glue guy cap to full effect. After he corralled a rebound and drew a loose ball foul late in the fourth, his two free throws gave the Sixers a brief 88-86 lead with under a minute remaining. During their fourth-quarter surge, he made a pair of tremendous rotations on back-to-back possessions to record a block and strip, the latter of which he secured en route to an assist. He also pulled down four offensive rebounds. His lateral quickness, awareness and communication were critical to the Sixers figuring things out defensively after the first quarter as well. If or when Philadelphia starts winning consistently, Tucker’s services will feel more important alongside its stars.

De’Anthony Melton: Nine points, two rebounds, one steal

Aside from Danuel House (four points), Melton was the lone reserve to score. He drilled 1 of his 2 triples, commandeered some lucrative ball-screen actions and helped invigorate a listless Sixers offense early in the second quarter. Defensively, he altered a couple shots around the rim and made a fantastic rotation for a takeaway. Much like Tucker, Melton is a really solid player whose strong performance was overshadowed by the glaring struggles of higher-profile Sixers in the loss.


Who is the Sixers’ Bell Ringer against Milwaukee

This poll is closed

  • 96%
    James Harden
    (521 votes)
  • 1%
    P.J. Tucker
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    De’Anthony Melton
    (12 votes)
542 votes total Vote Now

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