James Harden recorded a 40-point triple-double and Clint Capela won the matchup of talented bigs as the Houston Rockets rolled to a 118-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night in Houston.
Harden posted 44 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists and intermittently carried the Rockets when things went awry.
Capela added 30 points and 14 rebounds to outpace 76ers center Joel Embiid (20 points, 12 boards) and help send Philadelphia to its fourth consecutive defeat since a Christmas Day blistering of the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks.
Harden was spectacular throughout, converting 6 of 12 3-pointers while finishing 12-for-12 at the free-throw line.
When the 76ers mounted one last desperate push with just under three minutes remaining, cutting the deficit to 108-102 on a Ben Simmons layup, Harden responded with back-to-back 3s to snuff that rally. It marked the first triple-double on the season for Harden.
Simmons tallied a triple-double for the 76ers with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists and added four blocked shots and three steals. Tobias Harris added 24 points but Philadelphia shot just 6 of 27 from behind the arc and suffered multiple breakdowns attempting to defend Harden.
The 76ers were stout defensively in the first quarter, particularly in the early stages when Harden and Russell Westbrook started a combined 2-for-11 from the floor.
Philadelphia sagged off Westbrook and enticed him to shoot while thwarting Harden with an array of long-limbed defenders. Houston shot 30.8 percent in the opening frame and trailed 27-20 entering the second.
That’s when Harden, and in a complementary fashion Capela, came alive.
Capela followed his three-point play at the 8:01 mark with a pair of dunks before Harden added a 3 and then three free throws. That tandem continued to thrive, with Harden closing the half with a 3 and a layup lifting Houston to a 60-53 lead at the break.
Harden and Capela tallied 23 points in the period.
—Field Level Media