The night began being about Ben Simmons and booing him all night long, but it ended up being quiet as a mouse as a 76ers star found himself under fire for his performance.
Classic James Harden was on full display on Thursday night with his former team in Philadelphia to face him for the first time since he got traded. Harden has a reputation for not showing up in big games whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, and Thursday was another example of that.
Early on, just five minutes into the game, Harden hit a 3-pointer that marked his place as an all-time great scorer. That was as good as it would get for Harden for the rest of the night. Because in the midst of that history Thursday night, Harden laid an egg.
His brutal box score showed him scoring 11 points on 3-of-17 shooting and box-score plus-minus of -30. He along with the entire team got booed, maybe excpet for Joel Embiid who showed that he was actually trying out there.
Soon after the blowout at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, Harden would be spotted partying it up with rapper Lil Baby.
Not a good look for Harden.
TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley called out Harden for his poor play in big games. O’Neal said:
“For the last 5, 6, 7, maybe 10 years, that’s the knock on James. Will he show in the big game? Today’s a big game. You know you publicly said you didn’t want to be third fiddle. You wanted to be here. You wanted to smoke so this is the smoke. Today we’re at the cigar bar.
What are you gonna do? We at the cigar bar, we at the Hookah bar, you got to step up. This is a big game. The knock for a long time is you’re not gonna step up and guess what? Charles is right. You haven’t stepped up this is a scary situation because we brought you here for a reason. We need you. If we get to a Game 7 situation which is the big game, you need the big main players to step up and he hasn’t stepped up in a long time.”
“James got the reputation. He’s struggled in all big games because if you go back and look, even when they were in Houston when they should’ve beat the Golden State Warriors. They were there.
They were up until Chris Paul got hurt and Chris was the leader of that team, but James is developing a reputation and it’s fair, James is a terrific player, a great player, but when the lights are the brightest, he has played awful and like I said, the thing about being a great player, you don’t have to play great, you just can’t stink up the join, and he stunk up the joint tonight.”
After the loss, the 76ers are still looking good with a 40-25 record, while the Nets improved yo 34-33 and put themselves above .500 during a very trying season.