WASHINGTON (AP)James Harden scored 23 points and had 17 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers clawed back to .500 with a 118-111 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night despite missing Joel Embiid.
Tyrese Maxey added 28 points for Philadelphia. Georges Niang sank all four of his 3-pointers in the second half – including three in the fourth quarter – and finished with 12 points as the 76ers won their third straight to close a four-game road trip and move to 4-4.
”We keep saying we’re a work in progress,” Harden said of his team, which reached the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. ”We’re continuously trying to figure out great we can be. And I’m glad we were going through a tough time. Everything isn’t great (when) you’re winning games. It just feels that way.”
Embiid, the back-to-back NBA MVP finalist, missed out due to non-COVID-19 related illness.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 32 points and Bradley Beal added 19 for Washington, which lost its third in a row and second at home.
The Wizards closed to within five inside the final minute after going down as many as 18 early in the fourth quarter.
The 76ers took charge on a 27-6 run that spanned the late third and early fourth, during which the Wizards made just one field goal.
”We obviously missed some shots, we didn’t have great execution,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. ”Just the urgency to start the second half, I don’t think was there.”
Harden and Tobias Harris hit layups on back-to-back possessions to start it, the latter giving Philadelphia a 72-71 lead with 4:04 left in the third.
Niang’s first 3 made it 82-73 with 1:01 left in the third, and by the time he sank his third it stretched the lead to 95-77 early in the fourth.
”Third quarters are huge. – they always have been,” said 76ers coach Doc Rivers. ”When you can come out and stretch a game in the third quarter, it changes the dynamic of the game. I would love us to be that type of team.”
76ers: Improve to 2-0 without Embiid, who also missed Philadelphia’s 112-90 win at Toronto on Oct. 28. … Harris and De’Anthony Meldon had 16 points each. … Without Embiid, Philadelphia finished with zero second-chance points.
Wizards: G Monte Morris moved to 3001 career points – and eight on the night – when he hit a 3-pointer with 2:17 left in the first half. He finished with 19 … F Anthony Gill made his fifth career start and first since May 6 of 2021.
NOT ONLY A SCORER
Known most in his career for his scoring ability, Harden moved up two spots to No. 27 on the NBA’s all-time assists list with his performance, passing Stephon Marbury and Nate Archibald. At 6477 assists, he’s 100 shy of the all-time top 25.
”I just keep pushing, keep trying to make my teammates better, keep trying to make the play and good things happen,” Harden said.
SCRATCH THAT, REVERSE IT
Kyle Kuzma looked set to give Washington a 66-65 lead with 6:20 left in the third when he took Morris’ outlet pass on the break and honed in on an uncontested dunk. Kuzma attempted a reverse windmill finish that slammed off the back iron and fell for a 76ers rebound.
The 76ers and Wizards meet again on Wednesday in Philadelphia.
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