PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid had 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and the Philadelphia 76ers won in their first game since trading James Harden, beating the Toronto Raptors 114-99 on Thursday night.
Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tobias Harris each scored 23 points for the 76ers. Tyrese Maxey had 18.
Scottie Barnes led the Raptors with 24 points and O.G. Anunoby had 16.
Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak with a 130-111 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. The Raptors failed to build off the win and instead made it two losses already this season to the 76ers.
The 76ers may need another game or two before they finally adapt to a roster without Harden. They were used to playing without the 10-time All-Star — the 76ers went 2-1 without him — but coach Nick Nurse needs time to integrate the new additions.
Oubre’s ascension to the starting lineup in place of PJ Tucker, who was included in the Harden deal, left the Sixers with a thin bench. Marcus Morris and Nic Batum did not play in their first game since they were dealt by the Clippers. Robert Covington and K.J. Martin got some run in the final 90 seconds with the game in hand.
Nurse already faced challenges in his first season on the bench after five seasons in Toronto. He needed to learn about his players, teach his system and do it all while navigating Harden’s complicated playing status.
After training camp and a month of practice, Nurse almost has to start from scratch.
“It would have been better a month ago, I do know that much,” he said before the game. “It’s here and it’s where we are.”
Nurse said the newest 76ers would need extra work at practices and shootarounds — “as much as you can without overloading them — before they earn significant playing time.
“They’ll be in extra study halls here for a couple of days so we can just get them up to speed,” Nurse said.
Nurse can teach, scheme — yes, even deal with the media — without Harden’s availability serving as the constant theme of the day.
Led by NBA MVP Embiid and Maxey, the Sixers never played like they missed Harden. The Sixers averaged 119 points, shot 50% and had four players — Embiid, Maxey, Harris and Oubre — averaging at least 19 points over the first three games.
Of course, it always helps to have some backup.
The Sixers used nine players and built a 58-49 lead at halftime with big buckets from some unexpected role players.
Furkan Korkmaz, a forgotten Sixer in the postseason rotation, stretched the lead with a dunk off a turnover and a 3 that got a rise out of the crowd. When the 76ers wilted a bit in the third, Korkmaz delivered with a baseline reverse bucket and a free throw that nudged the lead to 90-77. He had 10 points and the 76ers named him player of the game.
Toronto: Play Sunday at San Antonio.
76ers: Host Phoenix on Saturday.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA
Dan Gelston, The Associated Press