NBA

'It's like having Magic Johnson' says 76ers coach Rivers after Harden puts on a show

By Sports Desk January 09, 2023

Doc Rivers compared James Harden's showing against the Detroit Pistons to something akin to prime Magic Johnson.

Harden finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in a 123-111 win for the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

In the process, Harden surpassed 24,000 career regular-season points, becoming the 27th player to hit that landmark.

And Rivers believes Harden deserves to be compared to the very best.

"I hate to you use this example, but when he's playing like this, it's like having a scoring Magic Johnson on the floor," Rivers told reporters. 

"When he runs our team with this kind of pace and he scores and gets assists, we're really good."

The Sixers needed others to step up in the absence of Joel Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey also delivered alongside Harden, scoring 23 points.

"Our defense was pretty good, we took care of the ball and I think everyone competed hard," Maxey said.

"Even someone like Paul Reed comes in and gets nine points and eight offensive rebounds. He plays with so much energy that the other team can't keep up."

Philadelphia are 24-15 for the season and sit fifth in the Eastern Conference, which is propped up by the 11-32 Pistons.

"That's a team playing for a championship and we shot ourselves in the foot," said a frustrated Pistons coach Dwane Casey. 

"We had 22 turnovers – the same number we had in the last game against them. We can't give them points like that."

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