Philadelphia 76ers vs. Houston Rockets: Postgame Grades and Analysis
When James Harden plays like this, the Houston Rockets are a very difficult team to beat. Wednesday night, they destroyed the Philadelphia 76ers, 125-103, with Harden scoring 33 points on an amazingly low 12 shots and getting 18 attempts from the free-throw line.
It's become nearly impossible to defend him, and when you finally get the ball out of his hands, he usually finds players like Greg Smith or Omer Asik open at the basket.
To be fair, the Sixers were at less than full strength in this one, with Jrue Holiday out with a foot injury and Evan Turner going down early in the second half after rolling his ankle. But it's hard to imagine them helping out much in defending Harden or getting the offensively challenged Sixers to 125 points.
When Houston is firing on all cylinders, it is best to just get out of the way. Here are the grades for both sides in Wednesday night's contest.
Point Guards: Jeremy Lin and Maalik Wayns
Wayns had big shoes to fill in his first start of the season replacing an injured Jrue Holiday. On one of the first plays of the game, he threw a pass directly at the referee, which wasn't all that great a decision.
Sixers coach Doug Collins eventually moved Dorell Wright to point guard, and Wayns scored just two points on five shots in 15 minutes of action.
Picking up where he left off in New York on Monday night, Lin began the game 3-of-3 from the field with three easy baskets at the rim. He continued down that road, finishing with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting and looking extremely comfortable with the ball in his hands all game.
He also deployed a pick-and-roll with James Harden that ended in a beautiful floater.
Shooting Guards: James Harden and Jason Richardson
At this stage in his career, Jason Richardson is primarily a spot-up three-point shooter. But he works hard on defense and plays with poise. Still, Wednesday night, he only made one shot from behind the arc in 31 minutes, which simply won't do.
It's tough to think of anyone who makes getting to the basket look easier than James Harden. It took all of 18 seconds for him to make a trip to the free-throw line versus Philadelphia, and before the night was over, he'd make all but one of his 18 shots from the charity stripe.
Harden had the ball in his hands on almost every offensive possession, yet somehow managed to finish with just two turnovers. This was a special game from a special player.
Small Forwards: Chandler Parsons and Evan Turner
An uninspired outing from Turner, who badly rolled his ankle early in the second half. With Holiday out of the lineup, Philadelphia's offense pretty much falls entirely on Turner's shoulders. Wednesday night, he wasn't up to the task, finishing with six points, two rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.
He had more than a few wide-open looks from behind the arc, but connected on just one of seven attempts. It was an off shooting night for Parsons, as he was the only Houston starter to finish in single digits in the scoring column, but his presence was felt on defense (three steals).
Power Forwards: Marcus Morris and Thaddeus Young
One of basketball's most underrated players had a super-quiet 17 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists. The Sixers don't call a lot of plays for Young, but on a night like Wednesday's, they probably should have.
Morris was phenomenal and versatile in the matchup, scoring baskets in transition, on dribble drives to the basket and from downtown. He finished the game with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, giving the Rockets exactly what they needed in Patrick Patterson's absence with injury.
Centers: Omer Asik and Kwame Brown
Brown was replaced after four minutes of play in the first quarter. Not the best sign. He didn't return and made his only shot.
He recorded seven points and five rebounds in the game's first eight minutes, and one of the NBA's most consistent centers finished with just another double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds) to his name.
When you factor in his defensive impact (he swallowed Spencer Hawes whole), Asik should more consistently be talked about at an All-Star level.
Sixth Men: Toney Douglas and Spencer Hawes
Hawes was active in the first quarter, throwing down a put-back and being a general pest on the boards, but as the game wore on, his production declined. He finished 4-of-11 from the floor, had four turnovers, and attempted a three-pointer that badly missed.
Toney Douglas was a monster from behind the arc in the fourth quarter and tallied 17 points (5-of-8 from three) in 25 very productive minutes on the night. His hot shooting stretched Houston's lead to an unreachable level.
Dorell Wright came in and actually made a few plays off the dribble, which is good, since Doug Collins appointed him point guard duties. He finished the game with 20 points and made three three-pointers.
Elsewhere, Nick Young scored a team-high 21 points on a carefree 18 shots. And Lavoy Allen grabbed seven rebounds to go along with 10 points.
Greg Smith was awesome again, scoring four straight baskets late in the third quarter to extend Houston's lead.
We also caught a Donatas Motiejunas sighting, with the rookie scoring four points in eight minutes. Hopefully, he can enter Houston's rotation while Patterson is out with an injury.