NBA: 76ers down Harden's Clippers

By Sports Desk March 25, 2024

Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey each had 24 points as the Philadelphia 76ers got back on track with Sunday's 121-107 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in the teams' first meeting since November's James Harden trade.

Harden's tumultuous 21-month tenure with the 76ers came to an end when Philadelphia shipped the disgruntled star guard to Los Angeles shortly after the start of this season. The 10-time All-Star dished out 14 assists against his former team, but was held to 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting.

The Sixers started fast and never trailed en route to ending a two-game losing streak, though Los Angeles erased a 17-point first-half deficit to tie the contest midway through the third quarter.

Philadelphia regained control behind a 6-0 run to take a 79-73 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter, then later scored 13 consecutive points in the fourth to open up a commanding 103-85 advantage with eight minutes to go.

Maxey accounted for 10 points during that pivotal spurt and scored 19 of his points after half-time.

Harris tallied 11 first-quarter points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 10 as the Sixers built a 41-29 lead after 12 minutes, and Philadelphia stretched the margin further in the second before the Clippers closed out the first half on a 10-0 run to pull within 63-56 at intermission.

Los Angeles continued to chip away early in the third quarter and tied the game at 65-65 on a Paul George 3-pointer 2:14 into the second half.

Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell paced the Clippers, who were coming off consecutive wins over the lowly Portland Trail Blazers, with 20 points each.


Bucks knock Thunder out of West's top spot with rout

Giannis Antetokounmpo racked up 30 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, Khris Middleton amassed a triple-double and the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a dominant 118-93 victory over Oklahoma City that knocked the Thunder out of first place in the Western Conference.

Playing with their core three of Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard and Middleton together for the first time since Feb. 3, the Bucks held Oklahoma City to its lowest point and field goal percentage (37.1) totals of the season to increase their lead on the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers to three games in the Central Division.

The Thunder had a four-game winning streak halted and dropped a half-game behind the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets for the West's best record.

Middleton compiled 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double, while Antetokounmpo scored 11 of his points in the third quarter as Milwaukee began pulling away after holding a slim 48-47 edge at half-time.

Seven of Antetokounmpo's points came during a 16-0 run that turned a one-point advantage into a 68-51 lead just past the midway stage of the third quarter. 

The Bucks didn't let up in the fourth, as they shot 63.6 per cent for the period while increasing their lead to as many as 26 points.

Josh Giddey led Oklahoma City with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder's All-Star guard, was held to 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and had a streak of 29 consecutive games of 20 points or more snapped.


Heat bounce back with dominant win over Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost ground to the Bucks in the Central race with a lopsided loss to the Miami Heat, who had seven players score in double figures to cruise to a 121-84 blowout win.

Miami rebounded strongly from Friday's 23-point home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, as the defending Eastern Conference champions built a lead as large as 45 points while getting contributions all throughout the roster.

The Heat received 59 points from their reserves, led by Haywood Highsmith's 18 on 7-of-10 shooting, as well as a 15-point, 16-rebound effort from starting center Bam Adebayo to end a three-game losing streak at home.

Cleveland got 15 points from Evan Mobley in the forward's return from a nine-game absence caused by a sprained ankle. No other Cavaliers' players reached double figures, however, as the injury-plagued club was dealt a third straight loss. 

The Heat shot nearly 58 per cent from the field in the first quarter to build a 32-22 lead, then increased the margin during a second quarter that guard Terry Rozier closed with a buzzer-beating layup that sent Miami into the break owning a comfortable 60-39 advantage. 

Cleveland never got closer than 19 points down in the second half, and the Heat's lead swelled to 118-73 with 4:23 left to play.

Miami's 45-point lead was its largest margin in any game since a 46-point cushion over the Chicago Bulls in a 2013 play-off contest.

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