Harden Delivers for 76ers, Suns Outgun Nuggets in Wild NBA Game 4 to Tie Series

Sunday in the 2023 NBA Playoffs made up for some recent blowouts as both games were thrillers with the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns able to tie their series at 2-2 with the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets.

The Bearded One Delivers 42 Points in Overtime Win

James Harden
Photo by Icon Sport

It looks like the 76ers have found their path to victory in this series: James Harden scoring 42 points and nailing a dagger 3. He did so in Game 1, played awful in Games 2-3, and bounced back like a Hall of Famer should in Game 4 with 42 points, 6-of-9 from deep, and the game-winning 3 in overtime.

But while Harden paced the 76ers, Boston was able to keep this one uncomfortably close despite trailing by as many as 16 points. Jayson Tatum scored 2 points in the first half and 22 in the second half. But Harden stole the show with a game-tying basket to force overtime after Marcus Smart failed to connect on a shot.

After an apparent push-off move that was not called, Tatum’s 3 with 38.1 seconds left in overtime could have been the game-winning shot. But Joel Embiid (34 points, 13 rebounds) wisely got the ball to Harden, who hit a corner 3 with 19 seconds left.

The Celtics did not call timeout and were very slow in setting up their final play, down 116-115. By the time Smart got the ball for another game-winning 3 attempt, the clock already expired well before he released the shot, which did go in too. Maybe if the Celtics showed more urgency, they would be up 3-1, but now it is tied 2-2 after Harden’s incredible game.

Jokic Scores 53 But It’s Not Enough in Phoenix

If you enjoy watching offense, Suns-Nuggets is the series for you. The 129-124 win by Phoenix was another masterclass for Devin Booker, who scored 36 points on 14-of-18 shooting. With 36 points from Kevin Durant and a surprising 19 points from Landry Shamet, the Suns had just enough to stay ahead of Denver and tie this series at 2-2.

Nikola Jokic was amazing too with 53 points and 11 assists, the 4th-most points in a playoff loss in NBA history. But Jokic did not get as much help from his teammates as they shot 5-of-18 from 3, including another struggle for Jamal Murray, who finished with 28 points on 25 shots.

But Jokic did have 6 turnovers and was involved in one of the wildest sequences of the playoffs when he got into a scuffle with Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia out of bounds, who appeared to flop after an elbow by Jokic:

Jokic received a technical foul but was not ejected. We will see if his status for Game 5 is affected by this, a potentially messy situation with an owner involved. But this series sure is heating up, and the offense that continues to get the most from its stars should win.

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