The Sixers’ chances were never going to be great Friday night against one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Their worst three-point shooting performance of the season didn’t improve their odds.
In a 107-91 loss to the Rockets at Toyota Center, the Sixers (41-25) shot 3 for 26 from three-point range (11.5 percent).
James Harden had 31 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes for the Rockets, who led by as many as 24 points.
• Just about every Sixer got a shot to guard Harden in the first quarter. None fared very well, with Harden posting 16 points in the opening period as Houston established a comfortable lead.
James Ennis got a chance against his old teammate and, predictably, fouled the league’s leading scorer on their first encounter.
Jonah Bolden faced up vs. Harden on a switch and saw a three-pointer drained in his face.
Harden actually didn’t have his best offensive night — he shot 3 for 11 from long range — but he's a near-impossible matchup for any opponent.
• Tobias Harris rebounded from an off night Wednesday in Chicago with 22 points on 10 for 15 shooting, meaning he’s scored over 20 points in 10 of his 12 games as a Sixer. Jimmy Butler was the other bright spot for the Sixers’ offense, scoring 19 points.
But outside of Harris and Butler, the Sixers struggled to score — to put it mildly. JJ Redick was a season-worst 1 for 11 from the floor.
Realistically, the Sixers needed outstanding offensive performances from at least two of their stars, to go along with solid support. They didn’t come close to matching Harden or the Rockets’ firepower.
• P.J. Tucker drew two charges on Amir Johnson within the first 80 seconds, the second of which was a borderline call Brett Brown did not appear too thrilled about. It was an inauspicious start for the Sixers as those fouls led to an earlier appearance than originally planned for Bolden.
The Sixers used a combination of Johnson, Bolden and Justin Patton at center. That trio combined to score seven points in 44 minutes.
As a point of comparison, Embiid scored 32 points by himself in the Sixers’ 121-93 win over Houston on Jan. 21.
Though the team has managed a 4-4 mark since the All-Star break without Embiid, you can feel his absence in so many different ways every night. Even if he’s rusty and not in top condition, the Sixers could sure use his low-post scoring and defensive presence Sunday vs. the Pacers, who still hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference and are a game on top of the Sixers.
• Despite an emphasis on getting Ben Simmons the ball in the post against Houston’s smaller guards, Simmons was ineffective offensively, settling for a few right-handed push shots and missing a couple of open looks around the rim. He had 15 points on 6 for 15 shooting, 10 assists, nine rebounds and seven turnovers.
When Simmons received the ball in the post, the Sixers’ offense was pretty stationary, which was a little disappointing. For most of this season, the Sixers have done an excellent job making split cuts off Simmons, giving him passing options and clearing the lane for him to go to work — it’s one factor behind Simmons’ massive leap in post-up efficiency this season. But on Friday, the typical sharp cuts off the ball were lacking.
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