The Sixers had one final meeting on their seven-game homestand, and the Los Angeles Clippers represented Philadelphia’s toughest test yet to achieving a perfect slate. The Clippers built a 20-point lead in the first half, but the Sixers were able to turn the tide in the second half, eventually securing a 119-114 win. James Harden tied a franchise-record with 21 assists, also tallying his first triple-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Joel Embiid led the team in scoring with 44 points on 18-of-30 shooting.
Given the quality of opponent and the comeback, you could argue this was Philadelphia’s best win of the season. In this post-game edition of the Talking About Podcast, Sean Kennedy asked David Early if he felt that to be the case:
“Without looking at the schedule, my gut instinct is yes. I was prepared to start trolling and say it’s a checkbook win for Steve Ballmer. They have the second-highest payroll in the entire league at like $190 million [Editor’s Note: $192.3 million]. They’ve got guys like Robert Covington and Amir Coffey who don’t even play. Meanwhile, we would love having guys like that on the Sixers bench. They are stacked. And when we were down by 20, I was moving on too, just like you were, thinking about Christmas Day game and maybe beating the Knicks.”
Sean and Dave then dive into James Harden’s historic performance in tying Wilt Chamberlain and Mo Cheeks with 21 assists in a game, even if The Beard felt he could have done one better.
James Harden jokingly said he wished someone told him he tied the franchise record for assists so he could’ve gone for 22 or yelled at one of his teammates for missing a layup. Said it was cool to tie his former coach (Cheeks) and a guy that has all the records (Wilt).— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) December 24, 2022
They discuss how Harden seems completely comfortable orchestrating the offense right now, and how he looks more and more in sync by the day with his teammates, particularly Joel Embiid. Embiid’s 44 points might have been a career performance for most of the league, but it’s become just another day in the office in what’s shaping up to be yet another MVP-caliber campaign.
Following another strong outing from De’Anthony Melton (13 points, 3 assists, 3 steals) and with Tyrese Maxey’s return imminent, they cover the starting options when everyone is healthy. Does Melton go back to a reserve role? Do you start three guards and slide P.J. Tucker to the bench? Does Maxey become a Manu Ginobili-like sixth man?
Finally, Sean and Dave reveal what they want to see under the Christmas tree for the Sixers in this holiday season.
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