Another NBA milestone means another piece by our NBA contributor Landon Buford. Since his arrival from Brooklyn, James Harden is leading the Sixers towards the top of the Eastern Conference with his new running mate Joel Embiid. In their latest win on Monday night, the man they call "The Beard" climbed up the all-time scoring list once again, but all he wanted to focus on was his MVP candidate teammate and his conditioning. Let's ball.
On Monday night, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Chicago Bulls 121-106, their sixth win in the last seven games. MVP candidate Joel Embiid led the way with a ridiculous stat-line of 43 points and 14 rebounds, also including 2 assists.
But it was James Harden who stole the show, not so much for his individual game numbers, but for the career number milestone he reached on the night.
The Beard added 16 points, and in the process passed Los Angeles Lakers great and NBA top seventy-five member, Elgin Baylor for 36th on the all-time scoring list. He also passed Paul Pierce for ninth on most regular season free throws made [6,919], and with his 14 assists tonight passed Jerry West for 33rd on the all-time assists list.
James would finish the game against the Bulls tied with Reggie Miller for third all-time on the all-time three pointers made list, and eight points away from passing Dwyane Wade for 35th on the scoring list.
After the game though, Harden wanted to talk about the incredible game of his big man Embiid, rather than focus on his scoring milestones.
“Yeah. I just had to go out there and be a playmaker tonight,” said Harden. “He [Embiid] had it going from the beginning. I seen that. If he needed help, I was there to help him, but forty-three points is a pretty good game. I think all of us just tried to fill in where we needed to.”
The Sixers are now 6-0 when Harden is in the lineup, with the only loss coming in Miami when he was not available. This version of Philly, since the trade for the former MVP, is proving to be a team to be reckoned with in a crazy-competitive Eastern Conference. After Monday's game, Harden explained why he did not play last Saturday night against the Heat, to help understand the big-picture view the team has on his situation.
“We have a plan for my body” said Harden. “We put together a very, very great plan and we are executing that plan very well. Credit to the training staff and the team for just being on the same page that was scheduled from the time I got back.”
Harden went on. “Hopefully, with these games coming up, I won’t miss a game, but that was scheduled just because it was so early,” he added. “I am just now getting back. This is my fifth game back. I am just trying to make sure that we are smart about this thing, and we are all healthy going into the postseason.”
James added that he went through a post game workout at Wells Fargo Center before speaking with the media after Monday's game.
“I just ran the bleachers actually,” he shared. “I just ran the stairs up in the arena. Try to get some extra conditioning in, extra work in, just try to make sure my body is strong, and I am back to how my body normally would feel. So just the work I put in, it does not change. I put the work in, and I live with the results. Tonight, was just another day at the office for me.”
The Sixers play host to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, which means this will be the first meeting between both teams just the blockbuster trade involving Harden and Ben Simmons. Unfortunately Simmons won't suit up fot for the game against his former squad as he's dealing with a back injury, but he will be on the bench. That could make things pretty interesting with the atmosphere in the arena. These are Philly fans we're talking about after all.