The Rundown: Harden gets W in Houston return, Sixers stop Jazz

Published March 4, 2021, 3:40 PMChuck Araneta

In his first game back in Houston, James Harden dropped a triple-double to lead the Nets to a victory. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid powered the Sixers past the league-leading Jazz.


  • Pistons 129, Raptors 105
  • Pacers 114, Cavaliers 111
  • 76ers 131, Jazz 123
  • Nets 132, Rockets 114
  • Hawks 115, Magic 112
  • Hornets 135, Wolves 102
  • Bulls 128, Pelicans 124
  • Mavericks 87, Thunder 78
  • Trail Blazers 108, Warriors 106
  • Kings 123, Lakers 120

What went down

James Harden needed this one badly.

His return to his old stomping grounds for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets was filled with uncertainty and anxiety. For several seasons Houston was Harden’s home. And during his time there, he nearly dragged the Rockets by the scruff of his beard to the finals. But it was a relationship that just was never meant to be.

Harden didn’t know what kind of ovation he was going to get, and Houston didn’t know quite how to handle his return. Were there some cheers? Undoubtedly. After all, he helped put Houston firmly on the list of contenders during all his years with the franchise, including an incredible MVP season in 2019. 

Were there some boos? Of course. But unfortunately for the Rockets, they were in no position to put up a fight against the Nets, especially with Christian Wood still sidelined.

So Harden did what he does best. He dominated with another triple-double performance of 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists. He was clearly the star of the night, and his teammates made a concerted effort to get him going. Because they knew that he needed this.

Big-time baller

The Philadelphia 76ers entered the All-Star break at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 24-13 record. Joel Embiid has been one of the biggest reasons for that mark. His season-long brilliance continued when he helped the Sixers rally back against the league-leading Utah Jazz to force overtime and eventually win 131-123. The Process registered a brilliant 40-point, 19-rebound line to lead his squad, adding another bullet point to what is quickly becoming an impressive MVP resume.

What he said

Indiana Pacers guard TJ McConnell set a new NBA record for most steals in a half when he recorded NINE steals in the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  After coming away with the win, McConnell was mobbed by his teammates to celebrate the win.

''The guys showered me with water after the game, but I don't remember much about it because it was so cold. It was not enjoyable, but it was enjoyable at the same time, if that makes any sense.''

Did you see that?

When teams are down with less than 30 seconds left in the game, the natural instinct would be to get the easiest bucket to tie the game and force overtime.

But as we know by now, Damian Lillard is built differently. Down by one, 106-105 with 27 seconds left, Lillard sent the Golden State Warriors home with a step back 30 foot triple to swing the lead back to the Blazers, eventually winning 108-106.