James Harden, Clint Capela lift Rockets over 76ers
77彩票网appThe Rockets were fading, struggling to get the kind of looks that had built an 18-point lead.
James Harden had one more blast left in him. Clint Capela rode shotgun. And the Rockets offered an encore of what they had done when at their best, pulling away to top the 76ers, 118-108, Friday.
77彩票网appHarden finished with his first triple-double of the season, scoring 44 points with 11 assists and 11 rebounds. Capela had a season-high 30 points with 14 rebounds. But both were most impressive with the game on the line, when Harden drained consecutive 3s before tossing one more lob to Capela to slam the door.
77彩票网appHarden made 13 of 24 shots, his career-high seventh consecutive game making at least half his shots. Capela went 12 of 16, outplaying Sixers star Joel Embiid, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds, but made just 7 of 17 shots.
The Rockets needed all that their top scorers brought them down the stretch.
77彩票网appAs much as the Rockets offense had rolled since the opening quarter, when the first quarter began, they were not getting the kind of looks that had rode to an 18-point lead. The Sixers were swarming to Harden. Embiid was staying back on Capela. The Rockets had to make the shots around them they had not, even when the offense was clicking.
77彩票网appThe Rockets made just two of 11 shots in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, both on Russell Westbrook jumpers that did not seem likely to last. The Sixers closed to within six.
77彩票网appHarden, however, saved one last run.
It was not the first time he had taken over the game.
The Rockets did not seem to offer any clues of the way they would take off in the second quarter the way the game began. Through 10 minutes, they had made just 5 of 22 shots, scoring just 12 points. But it was not just that they were missing shots, as much as that was a part of their slow start.
The Rockets seemed to be struggling with the Sixers’ length, especially in the paint.
77彩票网appBen Simmons played well off Westbrook, who took five of his six first-quarter shots from the perimeter. Simmons clogged the lane with Harden struggling to finish. The Rockets were missing the 3s they could get, though they were not getting them as regularly as usual.
In the second quarter, however, Harden began penetrating just enough to draw Embiid and send lobs to Capela, who had 15 first-half points, 12 on dunks. Harden finished a few drives, but also found his 3-point touch, making one before the end of the first quarter and two more in the second quarter on his way to a 23-point half.
77彩票网appWhen he got going, the Rockets went from a 20-point first quarter to a 40-point second quarter and from a 10-point deficit to a 60-53 lead. It helped that the Sixers cooled off, missing all seven of their second-quarter 3s to allow the Rockets to more often get in the open court.
By the end of the half, the Sixers had changed their defense, trying the traps on Harden they did not need when the game began.
77彩票网appThe Rockets still needed to show they had enough 3-point shooting around Harden. Other than Harden, they had made just 2 of 10 3s.
When they began the second half with Danuel House Jr. dropping in a 3 to burn a trap on Harden, the offense seemed to be clicking still. The Rockets pushed the lead to 18. Harden dominated. But a brief stretch in which Westbrook missed a drive, a 3-pointer and a slam (one of two dunks he missed) and had a turnover lead to a 10-0 run, just enough for the Sixers to head to the fourth quarter within 12.
When the Rockets began the fourth quarter with a pair of turnovers and two missed shots, the Sixers closed to within six. With that, Westbrook stepped up. With the 76ers trapping Harden and Embiid staying back on Capela, Westbrook sank an 18-footer and an open 3, pushing the lead back to 11.
With the Sixers offense rolling, however, the Rockets would have to find enough scoring with Philadelphia doing everything necessary to slow the two players that had carried them.
77彩票网appThey slowed Capela and Harden, but did not stop them when the game was on the line.
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