Too much beard: Three takeaways from Monday’s 123-104 loss to the Sixers

Feb 13, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Houston Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. (6) loses control of the ball against Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Too much beard: Three takeaways from Monday’s 123-104 loss to the Sixers

The Rockets held the NBA’s leading scorer, Joel Embiid, 10 points below his season average, but they still lost their sixth in a row, falling to the Philadelphia 76ers 123-104. Embiid was limited to 23 points, but James Harden scored 28 points, and Tyrese Maxey picked up the slack by adding 26 points off the bench. The Rockets shot just 40.7% from the field and did not make a 3-pointer until there was less than four minutes left in the third quarter.

James Harden is still really good

Harden finished with a relatively pedestrian nine points on 2-of-6 shooting in the first half, only to erupt in the third quarter. The former MVP scored 14 of the Sixers’ 33 points in the third quarter on 5-for-7 shooting, with four of his made baskets coming from behind the 3-point line.

Against his old team, Harden scored 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting to go with 10 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Harden’s scoring has been down this season, but a lot of that has been due to Embiid’s presence in the Sixers’ offense, and he entered the game leading the NBA in assists per game. Harden may not be the force he was in his prime, but he can still lead a very good, very efficient offense.

Sounds like someone the Rockets should try to get this summer.

Jalen Green finds other ways to score

Free throw shooting is always a big part of any game that Harden and Joel Embiid are a part of, but on this night, it was Jalen Green who lived at the free-throw line, taking more free throws than the two established stars combined. Harden and Embiid combined to attempt 13 free throws, while Green took a career-high 17 by himself, and more importantly, he made 15 of them.

Green finished the game with 29 points despite shooting just 6-of-20 from the field. Green shot just 5-of-19 on Friday night in Miami but finished with just 11 points because he only attempted one free throw. The 21-year-old averaged just 3.5 free throw attempts last season as a rookie, but that number has jumped to 5.9 attempts through 53 games this season.

TyTy Washington plays well of the bench

The 29th pick in June’s draft appears firmly entrenched as the Rockets’ backup point guard, at least until Kevin Porter Jr. returns from the foot injury that forced him to miss his 16th straight game on Monday, and he provided the Rockets a nice lift off the bench.

In 20 minutes, Washington finished with 4 points, 3 assists, and a steal, and while those numbers won’t jump off the page, he played a very smart, under-control game and did not commit a turnover. The Rockets committed 18 turnovers as a team, and for Washington to have none with as much as he had the ball in his hands gives you an idea of just how steady he was while on the floor.

Next up

The Rockets will close out the pre All-Star Break portion of their schedule when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.

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