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Harden’s big first half helps Sixers blow out Clippers

Harden had 25 points in the first half and helped Philly cruise to a second straight win in Los Angeles.

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The Philadelphia 76ers completed the Los Angeles sweep after beating the Clippers 122-97. James Harden seemed to get his offensive touch back in this one, finishing with 29 points (25 in the first half), 15 rebounds and seven assists. Joel Embiid was his usual MVP self with 27 points and 10 rebounds.

With the win, the Sixers improve to 46-27 and sit just a half-game behind the Miami Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Here are some takeaways from the victory.

First quarter

  • After being down 5-0 to start the game, the Sixers roared back with a 9-0 run to take an early four-point lead. Harden hit his first three-point attempt of the night and followed that up with a steal that led to a lob to Matisse Thybulle on the break for an alley-oop. The large contingent of Sixers fans at Crypto.Com Arena gave the squad a nice ovation once LA took a timeout.
  • The Clippers showed some love to Doc Rivers on the big screen, and he was given a welcome back from the PA Announcer. The fans showed their appreciation with some loud cheers.
  • LA ran a ton of pick-and-rolls with big man Ivica Zubac and seemed focused on getting Joel Embiid in early foul trouble but were unsuccessful. Zubac started the game 0-for-3 from the field.
  • After struggling during the first quarter the past few outings, Harden was dynamite to start this one. He had 10 points, five rebounds, an assist, a block, and a steal and looked more explosive than he has during recent games.
  • After making the Lakers’ Stanley Johnson look like an All-Star in the opening frame on Wednesday, the Sixers bounced back with one of their best first quarters of the season. Philly held LA to just 31.8 percent shooting and led 35-19 after one.

Second quarter

  • The non-Embiid/Harden minutes didn’t go well to start the quarter. Doc went with a lineup of Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, DeAndre Jordan, Shake Milton and Danny Green, who were outscored 7-3 before The Beard returned just over three minutes into the second.
  • The DeAndre Jordan minutes continue to be underwhelming. Although he grabbed three offensive rebounds, he also gave up three to Isaiah Hartenstein. Why Doc continues to play Jordan is mind-boggling.
  • Once Embiid and Harden were back on the floor, Philly began reasserting its dominance. The Sixers immediately went on a 9-4 run to extend the lead to 18.
  • After Philly only managed three points in three minutes late in the quarter, Harden stepped up and helped the Sixers pull away going into the break. He scored nine consecutive points in 1:16 and had 11 of Philly’s final 14 of the quarter.
  • Harden had 25 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Sixers take a 64-43 lead at the half.

Third quarter

  • The Sixers didn’t want to allow a repeat of what happened the last time these two teams played. The Clippers erased a 24-point second-half deficit and beat Philly, but that was before Harden was a Sixer. He assisted on four of the Sixers’ first six buckets of the second half and helped keep LA at bay.
  • Thybulle has shown he can be a good fit with Harden. He made five of his first six shots in this game and had 13 points through three quarters.
  • Embiid wowed the Los Angeles crowd with his performance. The MVP favorite had 27 points and 10 boards in 28 minutes, including this ridiculous three-pointer with the shot-clock winding down.
  • The Sixers are outrebounding the Clippers 40-31, something we haven’t seen very often this season.
  • Philly is up 93-71 going into the fourth. Hopefully the second unit can maintain the lead and Embiid, Harden and Maxey get to sit out a majority of the final quarter.

Fourth quarter

  • The Sixers’ defense has been great in this one. The rotations were quick and forced the Clippers into some tough shots, especially in the paint.
  • Harden played the first six minutes of the fourth before being subbed out. Embiid never touched the floor over the final 12 minutes, which makes it an ideal win for the Sixers.
  • All in all, this was a complete game for Philly. It held LA to just 40 percent shooting, outrebounded the Clippers 52-39. On the offensive end, the Sixers connected on 15-of-35 of their three-point attempts and finished with 23 assists.

Next up: A tough matchup against the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns on Sunday.