The Philadelphia 76ers needed someone to step up and make a big shot. They found themselves behind the upset Orlando Magic 113-111 in overtime after Orlando’s Cole Anthony started making some tough shots in the extra session and they needed someone to make a big play.
Normally, the Sixers would turn to James Harden or Joel Embiid. Why wouldn’t a team want to go to two of the best players in the game?
On a Sunday night in Central Florida, it was Tobias Harris who stepped up in a big moment to get past the Sixers when he knocked down a big corner 3-pointer off a pass from Harden and Philadelphia ran away from the Magic in overtime 116 – 114.
Harris scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting and was 3-of-5 from deep on the night. It was a game where he had to step up with Embiid shooting 9-for-28 and Harden going 5-for-19.
Harris explains the play
The play looked like it was originally meant for Harden and Embiid to make a play off of a screen, but when the Magic cut it off, Harden had to make a decision. With Harris standing in the corner, he was ready to make the play.
“We set up like an ISO to put James and Jo on the pick-and-roll and it was just the way the defense was changed at the time,” Harris said. “James kicked the pass and I was able to look at him openly and I was able to make him fall and see him go through the net.”
That’s where having a guy like Harden is great because he gets a lot of attention. That allowed Harris to get into position and he took advantage of the opportunity to pass in a big moment.
“It was just a great read, a great pass,” Harris added. “It wasn’t how we crafted the play, but more or less what happened through the actions in it. So it was a great offensive possession right there.”
Harris comes when he’s needed
They haven’t been easy picks for Harris since the All-Star break. He hasn’t been shooting well and has had a hard time getting into a rhythm on the offensive end. He has also received a lot of criticism, so Georges Niang felt good when he made the shot.
“I think it’s great,” Niang said. “Tobias is such a selfless person. The fact that he’s getting this success, it’s come slowly, but he’s sacrificed a lot to get this team going. He’s sacrificing individual accolades, individual stats, and if you look at them, he’s flying defensively, doing the little things we need to be successful.”
Obviously, Harris is a guy who can be seen as the X Factor of the team night in and night out. He is one of the highest paid players on the team and that is something he uses against him all the time. He has taken a step back since Harden arrived.
“I’m so happy that he got the reward of being able to make that 3-pointer and he’s been shooting really well, but he’s really the spirit of this team, and he really lifts us up and I’m really happy for him because I know how much he sacrifices and how much hard work he puts in. on his game,” Niang added. “He deserves all the praise and praise that he gets after a performance like this.”
Harris helping the Sixers win a game in which they struggled
The Sixers didn’t play very good basketball on Sunday. There were stretches where they looked pretty good, but there were also stretches where it was clear they’re still going through some tweaking and the Magic capitalized on that when they moved up to 17.
With Harris having a great time, it made him feel good about where he is with the team.
“It’s a good time,” he added. “I think overall we got a win in a game where we didn’t play our best. but we had streaks in the match that picked up our intensity and our game. Overall, for me personally, it’s a great opportunity and I think it’s just a combination of being patient with everything and the opportunity and the looks that I get on the floor and just being able to establish how things are now.”
Harris making an adjustment
In seven games after the All-Star break that began Sunday, Harris averaged just 12.4 points and shot 40.5% from the floor, so getting through all the struggles was big for him. Even if he is against the worst Magic of the East.
Harris: “Those things take time to take time for me to assess and know that. Tonight, I’ve got 18 shots, all really good shots, but just to be efficient on those shots, that’s my job and bring that intensity in leadership throughout the game on both ends of the floor. So every night and every game is an opportunity to do those things. I am hard on myself to do them at a high level and I knew that things would continue to work out in my favor because of the work I put into the energy that I come in with day in and day out. That’s how I see things.”
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