PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James Harden already made his first Philly highlight reel.
The 76ers gave a tease of Harden’s impending arrival with a flipbook-style video of his career that ended with a shot of The Beard superimposed in a No. 1 jersey. Sixers fans gave the clip a roaring standing ovation.
The Sixers can’t wait for the real deal to get to town.
Joel Embiid had 25 points, 19 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the 76ers won as they wait on Harden, 100-87 over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
“Everybody’s going to have extreme expectations,” Sixers forward Tobias Harris said. “I think this thing will really work. I think there’s something really special that we could do.”
Harden, who has a hamstring injury, is expected to travel to the area this weekend and get evaluated by the team’s medical staff. He won’t play Saturday against Cleveland. The means the earliest Harden could play for the 76ers is at home Tuesday against Boston. The Sixers also play Thursday at NBA champion Milwaukee before the All-Star break.
Sixers fans rushed the team stores when doors opened to get the jump on Harden jerseys. Yup, some die-hards wore a Harden jersey before the three-time NBA scoring champ could in Philly.
Harden was acquired from the Brooklyn Nets at Thursday’s trade deadline for 2016 No. 1 pick and three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. Simmons never played a game this season following an offseason trade demand. The Sixers got the second superstar they craved to pair with Embiid as they chase their first NBA championship since 1983.
Embiid had 11 points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter. The Sixers, who also sent Seth Curry and Andre Drummond to the Nets, never really pulled away in the second half from the 17-win Thunder.
The Sixers are in a holding pattern until Harden makes his debut. Furkan Korkmaz started in Curry’s spot and the Sixers suddenly don’t have a backup center to Embiid. Coach Doc Rivers said the Sixers would scan the buyout market.
Tyrese Maxey scored 24 points and Harris 17 for the Sixers.
Derrick Favors led the Thunder with 16 points and Lu Dort had 15.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said he was fine the team stayed pat at the trade deadline.
“We love our guys. We really like our team,” he said. ‘”We like the direction we’re headed. We’re obviously early in the process. We have a lot of confidence in not only the guys we have right now, but where we’re going.”
The Sixers ran rotations more fit for a preseason game and, with the Thunder struggling, this one will quickly be forgotten. The Thunder missed all eight 3s in the third quarter. Embiid shot only 8 of 25 from the floor.
So it goes. The Harden countdown goes on.
Thunder: Waived F KZ Okpala, acquired this week from Miami.
76ers: Embiid had a double-double in one quarter for the second time in his career. … G Shake Milton returned from a back injury and played for the first time since Jan. 3.
Tre Mann arched back and was about to throw down a monster dunk — until the Thunder guard was stuffed by the front of the rim. The Sixers replayed the botch on the big screen multiple times and fans laughed.
It got worse.
Paul Reed, fighting for backup center minutes with Drummond gone, had an uncontested look for an easy bucket on the fast break. Reed’s attempt at a f lashy reverse backfired. He missed the shot and fell to the court. The Sixers cackled at Reed’s misstep. Rivers laughed off the blooper.
“He was the first one that knew that was the dumbest play of the night,” Rivers said.
DON’T TOUCH THE DIAL
“It’s good TV.” — Daigneault on the Harden-Simmons trade.
Thunder: Play Saturday at Chicago.
76ers: Host Cleveland on Saturday night.
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