James Harden

The Philadelphia 76ers might be the laughing stock of the NBA, but that’s not stopping them from playing hard to get their first win. They almost had it but lost to the Houston Rockets 88-87, as James Harden scored the winning layup while Michael Carter-Williams blew it on the final two possessions.

How did he blow it? The 76ers held a 3-point lead with 50 seconds remaining thanks to a Tony Wroten 3-pointer. Wroten might be the better player than Carter-Williams, but the latter is Brett Brown’s main guy. With the Rockets narrowing the lead to one point, the point guard poorly dribbled the ball on his own foot to turn the ball over, leading to Harden scoring the game winning layup with just over nine seconds remaining.

Carter-Williams got the ball on the attempt to win the game, but all he could do was dribble out the clock and take a bad jumper instead of trying to run a better play. Wroten, with 19 points, is probably better suited to take these kind of shots late in games. But at least the Sixers are getting closer to picking up their first win. Losing by 53 points to the Mavericks put their season at a new, lower standard point, but they’re not giving up.

I think it’s a tremendous reflection of what they can be. I think it’s a tremendous sign of not feeling sorry for ourselves and then coming back with fight.

Despite leaving to the locker room in the first half, Harden wasn’t slowed down in his efforts to win the game on his own. He scored 35 points on 10-of-24 from the field, and as usual was very hard to slow down when going into the paint, getting to the line easily. He hit 14-of-16 from the line, adding 7 assists and 3 steals, as Kevin McHale said that if it wasn’t for Harden getting to the line on his own, his team would have lost the game.

Dwight Howard scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but also turned the ball over six times. He had seven blocks, but was also only 3-of-12 from the line. A superstar, but also a player that has flaws that can cost his team games, even against the worst team in the NBA. Harden isn’t perfect himself, but his ability to score at will against teams that can’t protect the paint is going to be worth a lot more wins on bad days for the Rockets this season.