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Tyrese Maxey, James Harden scary good as Joel Embiid-less Sixers top Wizards

Remember when the Sixers couldn’t win without Joel Embiid? Thanks to Tyrese Maxey and James Harden, they’re now 2-0 without the big man after a win in D.C.

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Wizards Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Sixers wrapped up their three-game road trip Monday night when they beat the Washington Wizards, 118-111. Philly was dealt a pregame trick rather than a treat when Joel Embiid was ruled out with a non-COVID illness. Tyrese Maxey led the way with 28 points. James Harden dropped 23 points, while also dishing out a season-high 17 assists.

Here are some instant observations from the win.

First Quarter

  • After having his worst game of the year in Chicago, James Harden got off to a red-hot start Monday night. Despite busting his elbow open on a drive, it didn’t seem to affect him as he had his step-back falling. On top of his 15 first-quarter points, he also dished out six of his 17 assists in the first quarter.
  • Not that it should be a huge surprise, but the Wizards took advantage of the small Sixers lineup early on. They doubled Philly’s points in the paint in the first quarter at 16-8. This helped the Wizards put up 28 first-quarter points. Kristaps Porzingis ended with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting. The Sixers only took a two-point lead into the second quarter.

Second Quarter

  • The offense was only coming from their stars in the first half. Tyrese Maxey caught fire early in the second frame. When Harden went to the bench, Maxey carried the scoring load with 11 points. P.J. Tucker had a perfect first half, going 5-of-5 for a season-high 11 points.
  • Montrezl Harrell left the game in the second after getting hit in the head, but he would return to the game late in the third quarter. A silver lining from this meant that Philly was forced to play Paul Reed. It felt like Reed’s minutes were the only time the Sixers got any type of resistance at the rim in the first half.

Third Quarter

  • The Sixers came alive at the end of third quarter defensively. They held the Wizards to just two points over the last five minutes of the quarter. I was hard on him in the first half, but Harrell looked really good on both ends after he returned from injury. De’Anthony Melton continues to make himself essential to this defense with his ability to deflect passes. Melton has also found a nice spot in the offense screening and rolling for Harden.
  • Harden put his passing on display tonight. His 14 assists through three quarters were good for a season-high, as he took advantage of his team playing five-out without the big fella.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Sixers got hot from outside to put this one away. Georges Niang hit three of his four three-pointers in the fourth. Maxey was certainly brimming with confidence when he decided to do this.
  • Despite trailing by as many as 18 in the fourth, the Wizards didn’t go away quietly. After a slow three quarters, Bradley Beal got it going a bit late to keep the Wizards hanging around by single digits late in the game. A corner three from Tobias Harris with just over a minute left would end up being the dagger as it pushed the lead back up to 10. Harris logged 16 points, five rebounds, four steals and one assists
  • The 4-4 Sixers will welcome the 3-4 Wizards to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday at 6 p.m. EST.

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