Harris-led 76ers end 19-game jinx at Oklahoma

Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris passing the ball to a teammate under the hand of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Markieff Morris (No. 5) at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday. The Sixers beat their hosts 108-104, with Harris topping all s
Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris passing the ball to a teammate under the hand of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Markieff Morris (No. 5) at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday. The Sixers beat their hosts 108-104, with Harris topping all scorers with 32 points. It was their first National Basketball Association victory at the venue since Nov 15, 2008.PHOTO: REUTERS

OKLAHOMA CITY • With All-Star centre Joel Embiid ruled out for the fourth straight game with left knee tendinitis, Tobias Harris picked up the slack to end the Philadelphia 76ers' 19-game losing streak at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 26-year-old showed on Thursday night exactly why the Sixers were so eager to acquire his services from the Los Angeles Clippers in the National Basketball Association game.

In what was his best offensive game since the trade early last month, the forward, who is averaging 21.9 points with his new team, led all scorers with 32 as the visitors beat the Thunder 108-104 for their fourth win in the past five games.

The Sixers had never won at the venue, with Embiid's injury hampering their chances of arresting a skid dating back to Nov 15, 2008.

Teammate Ben Simmons also played a big part with a triple-double - his ninth of the season - recording 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Afterwards, teammate Jimmy Butler, who was instrumental with 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, felt Harris was "going to win us a lot of games".

The All-Star guard told ESPN: "Take the shots you're comfortable making, and he made 'em. We want him to continue to be that player for us."

Simmons added the Sixers were able to push through the mental block as they now had "guys that have winning mentalities".

In an interview with ESPN, the reigning Rookie of the Year said: "Everyone in here wants to win, so nobody really looks at it (the losing streak). When you lose, you know you want to get wins, and it just gets to the point where no one wants to be comfortable with losing.

"A few years ago, obviously the team were in a situation where we were losing a lot of games, but now you have a lot of guys that want to be a part of a winning programme, and you just go off habits like that."

While the 76ers had said before their trip that they were not into moral victories, all the noises coming out from their locker room was about "coming out with a 'W' to get that off our backs".

Russell Westbrook notched his 25th triple-double of the season with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, but the guard's display was not enough for the Thunder, who lost for the third consecutive game and fourth in five games.

In Houston, James Harden produced his seventh career 50-point, 10-assist game to spur the Rockets to a 121-118 comeback victory over the Miami Heat.

The All-Star guard finished with 58 points and 10 assists, while Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk scored 21 points apiece for the visitors.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2019, with the headline 'Harris-led 76ers end 19-game jinx at Oklahoma'. Print Edition | Subscribe