With Joel Embiid scoring a career-high 50 points while adding 17 rebounds in the 76ers’ 112-105 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday, the performance of Tobias Harris got obscured, but not by coach Doc Rivers.
After a scoreless first quarter Harris took off. He finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and shot 9 of 16 from the field, including 1 of 2 from three-point range, while hitting 3 of 4 free throws. Along with Embiid, he had a game-high plus-22 rating.
“I thought tonight was why when people talk about all-star (about Harris),” said Rivers, who will coach the all-star game after the Sixers (20-10) clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference in games played through Sunday’s deadline. “He couldn’t get it going early and he did everything else...”
Harris finally did get it going and has been a consistent second scoring option this season. He has been especially effective during the last four games, the last two played without Ben Simmons due to illness and Monday’s 134-123 loss at Utah when Embiid missed the game due to back tightness.
Against Utah he scored a season-high 36 points.
In the last four games he is averaging 25 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.75 assists, while shooting 38 for 66 from the field (57.5%), including 5 of 9 from three-point range (55.5%).
The win against Chicago was a game the Sixers’ two leading scorers had to come up big because the rest of the team shot just 15 for 45 (33.3%).
“Just (had) that winning mentality all night,” Harris said. “On top of that, just being there for my teammates.”
Harris now averaging a career-high 20.9 points. He is also shooting a career-best 51.9% from the field, 42.7% from three-point range and 89.4% from the foul line and 57.6% effective field goal percentage.
He has worked well with Embiid. Rivers’ offense has afforded both the space to operate. What both players did on Friday and have really done all season, is not get in each other’s way, allowing plenty of room to operate. If Harris wants to take his man to the hoop, Embiid is willing to hang back and vice versa.
The Sixers are plus-12.3 points per 100 possessions with Harris and Embiid on the court together, according to Basketball-reference.com.
“(Friday) was definitely a chemistry night with myself and Joel just in isolation situations, giving each other space and I know if I get the ball in the post and Joel is spaced, that takes a shot-blocker out of the picture and vice versa, where guys aren’t going to leave me to double him,” Harris said.
Embiid has been named a starter for the fourth consecutive year for the March 7 All-Star Game in Atlanta. Harris, now in his 10th season, is in the running for one of the seven spots for Eastern Conference reserves, voted on by the coaches and announced Tuesday.
While Harris isn’t the flashiest player, his consistency has been a main reason for the Sixers’ success. Not only has he scored double figures in every game, but he has scored 16 or more points in 28 of the 30 games.
“I know the guys in the locker room trust me to make plays and to be smart out there and to help lead us to victory,” Harris said.