By KEVIN COONEY
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James Harden had 29 points and 10 assists against his former team while Tyrese Maxey scored 26 off the bench as the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Houston Rockets 123-104 on Monday night.
Joel Embiid scored 23 points in 31 minutes for the Sixers, who have won three in a row and improved to 22-8 at home.
“Once you hit shots and make 3s, it kind of opens up everything,” said Maxey, who is averaging 16 points and 28.6 minutes in 15 games since being placed in a reserve role.
Jalen Green scored 29 points for the Rockets, who have lost six straight to fall to a league-worst 13-44. KJ Martin added 15 for Houston.
“To me, it’s about being more decisive and trying to make the play instead of reading the play,” Rockets coach Steven Silas said. “We have to do a better job of that.”
It was Harden’s fifth game against the Rockets since he forced a trade with Brooklyn at the beginning of the 2020-21 season. Harden had played nine seasons with Houston, winning three scoring titles and the 2017-18 MVP award. In those five games, Harden is averaging 24.2 points. nine assists and seven rebounds. Harden now has 218 games in which he’s scored at least 20 points and recorded 10 or more assists.
Harden declined to speak to reporters after the game.
The Sixers controlled the action from the outside, shooting 15 for 34 (44.3%) from beyond the arc while holding the Rockets to 6 for 24 (25%) from 3-point range. Maxey helped kick-start an 18-3 fourth-quarter scoring run that stretched Philadelphia’s lead to 26 points.
“I feel like I’ve fixed my spirit, talked to my people and back in the space of having fun,” Maxey said. “That’s what helps me help my teammates. The spirit is contagious when I am out there, having fun and being energetic. And I think it helps my teammates as well.”
Houston entered the game as the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, converting only 32.8% from beyond the arc.
“We don’t have a way to do kick-out 3s and guys are feeling pressure when they are trying to shoot 3s, it seems,” Silas said. “Shot creation is what I’m most concerned about.”
Rockets: Guard Kevin Porter Jr. missed his 16th game with a left foot contusion. … Forward Jabari Smith Jr. posted an Instagram video on Sunday night, complaining about the noise levels coming from Eagles fans on Broad Street in front of Houston’s team hotel after the Eagles’ 38-35 loss to Kansas City in the Super Bowl. Silas said the Rockets had no other issues in their Center City hotel. “Jabari was just kidding,” Silas said.
76ers: PJ Tucker left the game with right calf tightness and did not return in what Sixers coach Doc Rivers called a precautionary move. Tucker is averaging 3.4 points and four rebounds through 54 games. … According to multiple reports, the Sixers will sign backup center Dewayne Dedmon to a contract for the rest of the season on Tuesday. Dedmon became a free agent after being waived by San Antonio last Thursday and playing in 30 games for Miami earlier in the year. Dedmon would fill a size gap behind Embiid in the middle. Philadelphia has struggled on the boards, starting the day 28th in the NBA with 40.6 per game.
Rockets: At Oklahoma City Wednesday night in their final game before All-Star Break.
76ers: Host Cleveland on Wednesday night before the break.
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