James Harden cannot be expected to consistently dominate NBA games but could have shown more aggression as the Philadelphia 76ers were knocked out of the playoffs, team-mate Joel Embiid said.

According to Embiid, a team-wide lack of aggression cost the 76ers as a 99-90 loss to the Miami Heat spelled the end for their season.

After being bounced out of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, much of the attention turned to Harden's quiet game.

He had just nine shots and scored only 11 points in almost 43 minutes on court, taking a mere two shots in the second half.

Embiid, who had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, said the 32-year-old Harden cannot be compared to the player who averaged above 30 points for three consecutive seasons with the Houston Rockets from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

Harden was the NBA MVP in 2018, but his points on the board have begun to tail off in the past two seasons.

Since joining Philadelphia in February 2022, after a stint with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has averaged 21.0 points over 21 regular season games, and just 18.6 points per game in the postseason.

Harden's field-goal shooting record of 40.5 per cent over the Sixers' 12 playoff games was his lowest in the postseason since the 2013-14 season.

"Since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden," said Embiid. "But that's not who he is anymore. He's more of a playmaker. I thought, at times, he could have been, as all of us could have been, more aggressive. All of us, whether it was Tyrese [Maxey] or Tobias [Harris] or guys coming off the bench.

"And I'm not just talking about offensively. I'm talking about as a whole, offensively and defensively. I didn't think we were good defensively as a team.

"They took advantage of a lot of stuff that we tried to do defensively. And then offensively just really everybody being on the same page, obviously, only having probably three or four months to all work together and try to figure it out. Maybe it wasn't a lot of time. I don't think we played our best basketball."

Lakers legend Magic Johnson was among those to question Harden's display, saying such a player "can't have a performance like that".

The 76ers won the last of their three NBA titles in 1983 and have not landed a conference title since 2001.

Asked how he and Harden could forge a stronger understanding, Embiid told a news conference: "Everybody's got to get better. It's not just about me and him."

Questions will be asked of Doc Rivers and the 76ers coaching staff, but Embiid said the players must look at themselves.

"I believe that we have the right people, but at some point you have to stop looking at coaching and you have to look at the players. Maybe you are just not good enough," Embiid said.

"I'm not trying to blame anybody, but the players have also got to do their jobs. It doesn't matter how much a coach or a GM talks to you or tries to motivate you, if you still go out there and don't do your job and the other team is more physical than you, that's on the players."

Russell Westbrook accepts Magic Johnson's damning assessment of the Los Angeles Lakers' form, but says the legendary figure does not know what is going on internally.

The Lakers slumped to a third defeat in a row with a heavy 133-96 loss at the hands of the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

Frank Vogel's side, who were without injured Carmelo Anthony for a third straight game, now have a 21-22 record for the season and are seventh in the Western Conference.

The defeat to a Nikola Jokic-inspired Nuggets was the second biggest of LeBron James' 19-year career, and one fellow Lakers icon Johnson felt showed a lack of effort.

"After being blown out by the Nuggets, we as Lakers fans can accept being outplayed but we deserve more than a lack of effort and no sense of urgency," Johnson tweeted. 

"Owner Jeanie Buss, you deserve better."

Westbrook, who scored 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting, did not want to be drawn into a war of words with Johnson when asked for his reaction to the social media post.

"I do not have a reaction," he said. "Everybody is entitled, in this world, to their opinion – regardless of what that it is. 

"You can either take it and run with it or you can take it and put it in one ear and out the other or you cannot respond to it.

"Magic's entitled to his opinion. And he's not here every day. He's not around us every day. He's not aware of what's going on internally with us and trying to figure things out. 

"But I have no response to that. Like I said, everyone in this world is entitled to their opinion and that's that."

Reigning MVP Jokic recorded another triple-double as the Lakers slumped below .500 again in their defeat to the Nuggets.

Jokic finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists as Denver piled on 73 first-half points before restricting the Lakers to only 36 points in the second half.

And on the back of a humiliating loss, Westbrook concedes his side have to step up ahead of back-to-back home games with the Utah Jazz and the Indiana Pacers. 

"We just got to play hard," he said. "Sometimes, the schemes and how you play doesn't really matter. 

"You got to just play hard sometimes. Teams are playing harder than us, simple as that."

Dwight Howard, whose average of 5.4 points-per-game through 33 outings this season is the lowest of his career, echoed the thoughts of Westbrook.

"It's not too much I can really say about it. We've been saying it all year. I shouldn't have to keep saying. But, you know, he's right," Howard said.

"You can't stop believing that you're gonna win and just say, 'Ah, f**** it, let's give up.

"We know we've put ourselves in a pretty tough predicament, but all it takes is a couple games and some good energy and some positivity. We've just got to stay positive."

The Lakers' 37-point loss to Denver was their largest ever in this fixture and follows defeats to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings in the past week.

"We've got to get back to the drawing board and get our defense right," head coach Vogel said. "We haven't performed well enough in the last two games on that side of the ball."

Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks says Russell Westbrook must go down as one of the game's greats after another incredible triple-double in their 154-141 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday.

Westbrook had 24 assists along with 21 rebounds and 14 points for the Wizards, meaning he will have a triple-double average for the fourth season in his career.

The point guard's 24 assists was an equal career-high, while the Wizards' 50 for the game was a franchise record and the best in NBA history since 1990.

It was also Westbrook's 32nd triple-double of the season, taking him to 178 for his career, only three short of Oscar Robertson's all-time record.

"I've been fortunate to see him for eight years," said Brooks, who coached Westbrook at the Oklahoma City Thunder. "He does a lot of things that are pretty much superhuman at times.

"Point guards don’t do what he does. They're not built that way.

"I used to always say, he's going to go down as the third best point guard ever. I think he's passed one, he's going to go down as the second best. One is obviously Magic [Johnson].

"He's doing MVP-type things every game. He's as high a level as a player this league has ever seen."

Westbrook is averaging 21.8 points per game, 11.3 rebounds per game and 11.2 assists per game this season.

"Personally I feel like I'm the best playmaker in this league because I'm able to do things that nobody else can do," Westbrook said.

"I take pride in playmaking and passing it and making my teammates better. I'm grateful to have a bunch of teammates that make my job so much easier."

Tiger Woods was in hospital with serious leg injuries after a car crash on Tuesday that sent shockwaves through golf.

The 15-time major winner had to be rescued from his vehicle early in the California morning after coming off the road and overturning.

He was taken to surgery as the sporting world waited for updates on his condition.

Woods' close friend Justin Thomas said: "I'm sick to my stomach. You know, it hurts to see one of my closest friends get in an accident. Man, I just hope he's all right. Just worry for his kids, you know. I'm sure they're struggling."

Australia's former world number one Adam Scott added: "It's sickening. He's our hero out here. You think guys like Tiger and Kobe Bryant are untouchable, but they're not. I just hope he's all right."

Woods' former partner Lindsey Vonn added: "Praying for TW right now."

Basketball great Magic Johnson called for a rush of goodwill towards the 45-year-old, saying: "Everyone send your prayers out to Tiger Woods! He was just in a bad car accident. Let us all pray for his speedy recovery."

The shock among PGA Tour stars was telling of the esteem in which they hold Woods.

Bryson DeChambeau said he was "heartbroken and shocked", while Justin Rose addressed Woods as he wrote on Twitter: "Just seen the awful news. We know how tough you are, we've seen it a hundred times. Hoping and praying you're ok my friend."

Ian Poulter said: "Thoughts are with @TigerWoods and others involved, wishing a speedy recovery and I hope the injuries are not bad."

Xander Schauffele, quoted on the PGA Tour website, said: "My putting coach called me and told me. The volunteer who gave me a ride showed me a picture of it, and I read they used the jaws of life.

"The mood has been very quiet, I'd say. Everyone I've talked to has been in a strange mood due to the news. I was talking to my caddie about the impact he's had on the game of golf. It's not good for us, not good for the game of golf. All we can do is hope that he's fine and has a speedy recovery."

Baseball great Alex Rodriguez wrote: "Praying for my brother @TigerWoods as we all anxiously await more news. Thinking of him and his entire family."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.