Sixers down Wizards behind Harden’s historic night

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Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden reacts after being fouled by Washington Wizards forward Deni Avdija, back left, of Israel, while shooting in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Philadelphia 76ers found themselves without Joel Embiid for the second time in the past three games, and yet, they secured their third straight win. Behind James Harden’s 17-assist performance, the Sixers defeated the Washington Wizards 118-111.

The joint effort of Harden and Tyrese Maxey proved to be the difference in the game for the Sixers as the starting backcourt combined for 51 points, 10 rebounds, and 20 assists.

Philadelphia found themselves at the mercy of a major size disadvantage going up against Kristaps Porziņģis (32 points), who anchored the Wizards down low. Despite this, they were able to overcome it thanks to the quickness of Tyrese Maxey and the vision of James Harden.

Speaking of Harden’s vision:

James Harden’s historic effort

From the jump, James Harden understood that he, at least in part, would have to carry the load for the Sixers, scoring 15 points and dishing 6 assists in the first quarter alone. From there, he was content to turn his focus to facilitating.

It’s not often in the history of the Philadelphia 76ers that a player is able to accomplish a feat of 17 assists. Going into last night’s game, there had been just eight players in the history of the franchise to record that many assists in one outing; James Harden is now the ninth. The last Sixer to accomplish this was Ben Simmons against the Detroit Pistons on 12/23/2019.

It’s not just the Sixers’ history books that Harden found himself in Monday night; he also continued his climb among the NBA’s top assist-makers of all time. Harden climbed all the way to 27th, ahead of Stephon Marbury and Nate Archibald. He now has a chance to pass Miami Heat guard for 26th, needing just 29 assists to accomplish the feat.

Much has been made of Harden’s ability at this stage in his career, and yes, “Houston Harden” is likely a relic at this point in time. That is not to say, however, that Harden is no longer useful. Facilitators as crafty as James Harden are generational, especially when they contribute over 20 points per night.