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Harden powers Sixers past Lakers

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — James Harden seized command of a roller-coaster National Basketball Association contest in overtime to lift Philadelphia past the Los Angeles Lakers, 133-122, on Friday after nearly squandering a 19-point lead.

Joel Embiid scored 38 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, De’Anthony Melton added a career-high 33 points with seven steals and Harden scored nine of his 28 points in overtime to spark the host 76ers to victory.

Philadelphia seized a 102-84 edge early in the fourth quarter before the Lakers, who were led by 31 points from Anthony Davis, erased a nine-point deficit in the final 29 seconds to force extra time, aided by three 76ers turnovers in the span.

But Harden’s heroics included a three-point play, a jumper and four free throws as the Sixers began overtime with a 12-0 run and the Lakers missed their first nine overtime shots.

“We should never have been in that position in the first place,” Embiid said.

“That’s what we have been talking about all season long.”

“We’ve got to be better. It wasn’t good enough. We’ve got to be locked in for 48 minutes.”

“That end, that wasn’t us. But I’m glad we responded in overtime and ended up winning.”

LeBron James, who missed his first six shots, scored 23 points for the Lakers while Davis added 12 rebounds despite foul trouble and reserve Austin Reaves had 25 points.

Russell Westbrook delivered the first Lakers triple-double off the bench since Magic Johnson in 1996 with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Cameroonian star Embiid scored 20 first-quarter points, matching the Lakers as the Sixers took a 31-20 lead, LA’s fewest first-quarter points this season. Embiid hit 8-of-9 shots from the floor, 2-of-3 from three-point range.

“I was trying to send a message to my teammates, just setting the tone offensively and defensively,” Embiid said.

Davis picked up three fouls in the first five minutes and when he went to the bench, the 76ers went on a 16-0 run over more than four minutes for a 24-12 advantage, the Lakers missing seven consecutive shots.

“I was just trying to attack him, put him in foul trouble,” Embiid said.

“That opened up everything.”

Reaves sizzled in the second quarter as the Lakers sank 13 consecutive shots over a span of more than eight minutes to reach halftime down 61-59.

The Sixers (13-12) ended the third quarter on an 11-4 run and began the fourth on a 9-1 spurt for their largest lead, only for the Lakers (10-15) to rally in the last seconds.

Reaves went 2-of-3 from the free throw line, pulling LA within 120-119, but Davis, who had 21 points in the fourth quarter, stole an inbounds pass and was fouled. He sank the first free throw but missed the second, setting up overtime.

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