Simmons rises to the occasion, but Harden shoots rockets that are unreachable

He has never reached the milestone in the game with so many points.

Harden posted 11 rebounds and 11 assists and temporarily wore the Rockets when things went wrong. Clint Capela added 30 points and 14 rebounds for Houston to beat 76ers Center Joel Embiid (20 points, 12 boards).

“If you see James Harden in an isolated environment, he may be the top scorer in our game history,” said Brett Brown, 76ers coach. “I mean it. If you’re just doing math and metrics, it’s just … him and a defender. It’s ridiculous what he does.”

The defeat is Philadelphia’s fourth consecutive defeat since a Christmas day on which Milwaukee, chairman of the Eastern Conference, is blowing bubbles.

Harden was consistently spectacular, turning six out of twelve three-point points into a 12v12 win on the free throw line.

When the 76ers made the last desperate push with just under three minutes ahead and reduced the deficit with a Simmons lay-up to 108-102, Harden reacted with two consecutive three to cushion the rally. It was the first triple double of the season for him, although he scored an average of 38 points per game.

Ben Simmons is a sign of solidarity with his fellow citizens who are dealing with the Bushfire crisis. Credit: Eric Christian Smith

Tobias Harris added 24 points, but Philadelphia shot just six out of 27 points behind the bow and suffered several mishaps when he tried to defend Harden. Simmons didn’t try a three-pointer.

Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, Terrence Ross earned 25 points and Nikola Vucevic 20 points and 11 rebounds when Orlando closed Miami 105-85.

The heat only scored six points in the fourth quarter, three for 19 from the field. Jimmy Butler scored 23 of their points and generated 10 rebounds.

Aaron Gordon had 16 points and eight ricochets for the magic, while Evan Fournier scored 15 points, although he spent most of the game in bad trouble.

A day after Toronto’s success with a 6:42 win from a 3-0 distance, Miami shot seven for 37 from a distance and 37.5 percent from a distance.

After Vucevic and Gordon had taken Orlando 67:49 three times in a row at the beginning of the third quarter, the heat reacted with a 14: 3 run.

Meyers Leonard then hit a couple of three points to reduce Orlando’s lead to four.

But Miami remained without a goal for more than three and a half minutes at the start of the fourth quarter, missing five shots and flipping the ball three times.

In Boston, Jaylen Brown had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help the Celtics overcome an 18-point first quarter deficit and defeat the NBA’s worst team, Atlanta, 109-10.

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Marcus Smart started instead of Kemba Walker and scored 15 points. He added nine assists and hit a 3-pointer that gave Boston a 4-point lead 43 seconds before the end.

Damian Lillard scored 35 points and CJ McCollum added 24 in Portland’s 122: 103 away win against Washington.

Hassan Whiteside added 23 points, 21 rebounds, and five blocks for the trail blazers that had a losing streak of five losses.

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