James Harden is having a career shooting season, and he had it all going in Sixers’ statement win over Bucks

Perhaps the biggest blow in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 133-130 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night came from a poor play.

With less than 1:30 to play in the fourth quarter and the Sixers trailing by as much as 18 at the end of the third quarter, down by four, James Harden lost control of the ball and was forced to run back half court to retrieve the ball. This. Even though the shot time was running out, Harden pulled the trigger on the 30-foot throw. Splash.

After Philadelphia got the ball, Harden found Joel Embiid for a good three-pointer. The 66ers were never behind again in ending Milwaukee’s 16-game winning streak in what is probably considered the most impressive victory of the Harden-Ambiid era.

Obviously Embiid’s throw was huge. After all, it was a winning match. But I would call Harden’s hit a lifesaver. If that roll doesn’t work and Milwaukee controls the board by four points and time is under a minute, Philadelphia’s chances of winning will be pretty bleak.

But the shot went through, which is quite appropriate. In case you haven’t noticed, Harden has the best three-point shooting percentage of his career, over 41% on almost eight attempts per game.

He never even got close to that mark. The best he ever did as a rocket was 37 percent, although he was obviously a more voluminous shooter in his prime days in Houston.

In six games since the All-Star break, Harden is 25 of 50 from deep. Since Feb. 1, he’s pairing with a 45 percent clip as his All-Star snub looks worse.

Harden was great in this game, especially in the fourth quarter, where he scored 17 of his 38 points, two of five 3-pointers and four of ten assists.

This is only the fifth time this season that Harden has scored 30 points. He is no longer the scorer he once was, in part because the Sixers rightfully prioritize Embiid, who is considered the league’s second-leading scorer, and Harden leads the league in assists.

But on Saturday, Harden unleashed his classic aggression, hitting the paint and the rim on several decisive possessions for finishing and fouls. The Sixers spammed the double screen to give Harden the space he needed against Jrue Holiday’s tenacious defense, and when he got it, he attacked with determination.

“We call it two thumbs down/thumbs up,” Doc Rivers said of the dual-screen action. “The first choice is just for Holiday to open up his body a bit. The second choice is the choice that did the damage and allowed James to leave. [downhill]. It was a good thing for us.”

“That’s what I do,” Harden said. “I am very comfortable in such situations. Whether it’s playing or scoring, I’ve been doing it for a long time.”


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