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James Harden Makes 76ers Debut In Blowout Win Over Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- James Harden had 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in his 76ers debut, Joel Embiid added 34 points and 10 rebounds and Philadelphia routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 133-102 on Friday night.

Philadelphia finally got to see how its star twosome worked together after Harden missed his first two games following the trade from Brooklyn with a hamstring injury. The results were promising, particularly where Embiid and Harden thrive – at the free-throw line.

Embiid, who had 21 free throws in a double-overtime loss to Minnesota in November, was 11 of 13 from the line. Harden was 8 of 9 as the 76ers went 30 of 36 overall.

Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 25 points, and D'Angelo Russell had 21. But the Timberwolves couldn't replicate the dramatic win in Philadelphia earlier this season.

The 76ers didn't have Harden — or Ben Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn along with Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks for Harden — in November.

Harden, the 2018 MVP, hadn't played since Feb. 2 due to the injury, delaying his pairing with Embiid. Philadelphia believes it finally has the top-level duo, and a strong third piece in Tobias Harris, to break through in the Eastern Conference.

The 76ers started the day third in the East. They have won four of five.

In Philadelphia's first game following the All-Star break, Embiid controlled the first quarter from the line. He was 7-of-8 shooting on free throws and had 10 points and six rebounds in the quarter.

The 76ers used a 15-0 run to take a 16-6 lead and never trailed again.

Minnesota, coming off a 119-114 win over Memphis a night earlier, got to 51-48 late in the second quarter. But Philadelphia closed the half on a 15-1 run after Mattisse Thybulle had a putback dunk right before the buzzer off a missed 3-pointer from Harris.

TIP-INS

76ers: Harris had just six points, but his defense on Towns forced an off-night shooting for the Timberwolves All-Star. Tyrese Maxey scored 28. … Coach Doc Rivers wouldn't reveal his starting lineup before the game, but Harden ended up starting along with Embiid, Harris, Maxey and Thybulle. … Philadelphia was 19 of 39 from 3.

Timberwolves: G Michael Beasley was out with a non-COVID-19 illness. … Minnesota had 16 turnovers, 11 in the first half. … Towns was 3 of 14 from the field through three quarters.

UP NEXT

76ers: At New York on Sunday to open a home-and-home series.

Timberwolves: At Cleveland on Monday night.

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