Atlantic Notes: Harden, Simmons, Dragic, R. Williams

The Sixers scored 144 points in beating the Hornets this afternoon, easing concerns that the offense has stagnated since James Harden arrived. Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak as Harden reverted to the playmaker role he adopted after being acquired from the Nets in February, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He took just 10 shots from the field and handed out 13 assists while playing three quarters in the blowout.

“Like I said, it’s possession by possession, game by game,” Harden said. “Some games I need to be a little more aggressive. But with all that said, I think when all of us are playing well together and on the same page, we got a very, very good chance to win.”

Coach Doc Rivers compared Harden’s situation to what Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen experienced when they joined the Celtics. It’s harder to put up impressive stats on teams with multiple scoring options.

“His numbers are not going to be like his numbers in Houston, because he’s playing with a pretty good player [Joel Embiid],” Rivers said. “So those types of numbers I would never compare him to or anybody to.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rivers was relieved the Sixers were able to work out a deal for Ben Simmons at the deadline, saying his standoff with the team was becoming too much of a distraction, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated“The guys were just over it,” Rivers said. “We were winning games, and, every town we went to, we were talking about Ben. I don’t know if we could have gotten through the second half of the season with that hanging over our heads. I was praying something happened.”
  • Simmons traveled with the Nets for tonight’s showdown in Atlanta, but he was limited to “light shooting” before the game and didn’t move around much, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Coach Steve Nash said nothing has changed with Simmons’ status, adds Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Nets guard Goran Dragic, who has entered health and safety protocols, is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, Nash said in a pregame meeting with reporters (Twitter link from Lewis). Nash added that Bruce Brown has the flu and hopefully will return soon. Seth Curry will miss tonight’s game because of soreness in his left ankle (Twitter link).
  • Celtics center Robert Williams was happy with the results of his meniscus surgery, tweets NBA writer A. Sherrod Blakely. “Everything went as well as we wanted to (with the surgery),” Williams said. “We have to take our time, make sure I’m healthy … everyone here cares about me long-term.”
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