Harden rips Sixers defense early as Houston deals league-worst Philadelphia a 27-point drubbing
James Harden had 23 points on 8-of-8 shooting in the first quarter. AP

JAMES Harden's torrid start sparked the Houston Rockets blowout win over the Philadelphia Sixers, 115-88, at the Toyota Center on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).

Harden hit all eight of his shots and had 23 points in the first quarter, leading a Rockets charge from a 7-12 deficit to a 38-26 lead at the end of the period. Harden matched the franchise record for most points in a quarter, a feat Yao Ming did in the fourth period against the Washington Wizards in December 26, 2006.

When Harden turned cold in the second quarter, missing all five attempts, Eric Gordon stepped up to keep Philadelphia at bay with a 65-52 advantage at the break. Then Harden regained his shooting touch, with two triples in the third, as the Rockets built its largest lead at 92-63 in the period, before he sat out the final frame and watched the bench players seal the victory.

Harden scored 33 points, with four triples, to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds. Trevor Ariza and Eric Gordon had 17 and 16 markers, respectively, and led the Rockets onslaught from beyond the arc as Houston knocked down 17 three-pointers. Clint Capela added some interior presence for Houston, now with a 6-4 record, as he hauled 13 rebounds and blocked five shots.

Joel Embiid led the Sixers with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova also had 13 off the bench and fellow reserve Nik Stauskas added 12 markers but Philadelphia fell to its second straight loss to end up with a league-worst 1-9 card.

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