The titanic matchup between the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks and the third-place Sixers lived up to the hype, with Philadelphia fighting back from 18 third-quarter deficits to pull off the best win in Milwaukee.
While Sixers’ Joel Embiid finished with 31 points and Tyrese Maxey added 26, Harden was the driving force behind the late comeback that gave the Sixers the win.
The 10-time NBA All-Star contributed 21 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, in which the visitors prevailed 48-31 to capture the final victory.
He also flashed 10 assists and grabbed nine rebounds in an excellent performance.
“He was fantastic, he led the comeback, he was just James Harden,” Embiid said of his teammate after the game.
Meanwhile, Harden was paying tribute to teammate Embiid after what was arguably the two best offensive displays since joining forces in Philadelphia.
“We informed him, he is a high scorer and we try to catch the ball,” said Harden, who came to the Sixers from Brooklyn last year.
“We’re trying to improve one game at a time, one quarter at a time,” he added.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee was left to mourn its recent collapse as the Bucks seemed to falter at the end of the game leading by 18 points, leading 95-77 with just 2 minutes and 41 remaining in the third quarter.
The Sixers had cut the gap to 14 points by the end of that quarter and, early in the fourth, went on a 15-2 run to turn the tide of the contest.
Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee’s record with 34 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, while Cuban-American Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday each added 20 points.
Milwaukee remains the leader of the East after the loss, just half a game ahead of Boston with a 45-18 record. Philadelphia improved to 41-22.
Miami is burning Atlanta
In Miami, center Bam Adebayo scored 30 points and held the Heat’s Trae Young to eight points in a season-low 117-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
All-Star Tyler Herro added 22 points, and Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin each finished with 15 for Florida, which extended its lead over the Hawks to 1 1/2 games for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks are 1-2 under new coach Quin Snyder, who took over on Tuesday.
– Saturday’s results in the NBA:
Toronto at Washington 116-109 (overtime)
Miami beat Atlanta 117-109
Philadelphia beat Milwaukee 133-130
Cleveland beat Detroit 114-90
Houston at San Antonio 122-110
Minnesota and Sacramento 138-134