In order for the Philadelphia 76ers to get the job done on Thursday in a win over the Brooklyn Nets, they needed help for Joel Embiid. The big guy had 34 points and six rebounds as he continues to set records, but he needed a little help.
Tyrese Maxey rose to the challenge and amassed a career-high 25 points, including five triples. On top of that, he made four after halftime with two in the fourth quarter when the Sixers needed it most.
He also did it when he had to defend Nets superstar James Harden and he caught Harden’s attention after the win.
“He knocked over some big shots,” Harden said. “Some 3s – more than a couple – I think he hit three or four 3s in that fourth quarter. Shoot up, he was super aggressive, he was their point guard all year, so he has that green light to attack the basket, take a shot and he did it. He did some big shots for them and that was the game.
Harden himself had a big game, registering 33 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and he’s gone to the foul line 18 times. It was a game where he looked the same in a season that was a little weird for him in terms of attack.
However, he made six turnovers as Maxey didn’t back down from the challenge of having to defend him.
“The key that Doc (Rivers) has insisted on all year with Tyrese is to make them work against the pressure, to make them work against the bring up,” said interim head coach Dan Burke. “It doesn’t have to be a robbery or anything, but turn them, make them use the clock, that eliminates two other options maybe on the other end.”
Maxey fouled Harden taking jumpers but other than that it wasn’t a bad night for him on the defensive end despite Harden’s last stat line.
“I thought you had to stop fouling jumpers, but the good thing is James knows he’s there,” Burke added. “As long as Harden knows Tyrese is coming, we have a small chance. Not much, but we’ll play the odds on that.
The Sixers will now head to 2022 and prepare for a clash with the Houston Rockets on Monday.
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