The Philadelphia 76ers are sending wantaway James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers, according to reports.

Harden has been in a dispute with the 76ers, and missed their opening game of the season – a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks – and their second fixture, a win over the Toronto Raptors.

The 10-time All-Star and returned to the roster for the win over the Portland Trail Blazers, watching on from the bench as Joel Embiid led Philadelphia to victory.

Now, the dispute between the 34-year-old and the 76ers will come to an end, with Harden heading to the Clippers.

Philadelphia have elected to send Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev to Los Angeles. In return, they will receive Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 pick swap and a first-round pick that can be routed from a third team.

The NBA opened an investigation into whether Harden's absence from the 76ers' season opener was a violation of the league's player participation policy. 

ESPN reported that Harden is delighted to be joining the Clippers, where he will team up with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. There will also be a reunion with Russell Westbrook, who Harden played alongside for the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden joined the 76ers in 2022, after a frustrating stint with the Brooklyn Nets.

The 2018 NBA MVP averaged 21 points, 10.7 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game last season.

James Harden's season debut could be coming soon.

Of course, with the disgruntled NBA star who really knows for sure.

Harden participated in the Philadelphia 76ers' video session and walkthrough Sunday before their home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers - the first time he was with the team for a game this season.

Before the Sixers routed the Blazers 126-98, coach Nick Nurse told reporters that he expects Harden to practice with the team on Tuesday.


Harden, who has famously demanded a trade and critisized team president Daryl Morey, has been practising with the 76ers' G League as he works his way back into game shape. The 76ers have said he needs to "ramp up" his conditioning before he can make his debut.

"The report on him is, he had some good conditioning days," Nurse said. "All signs are positive, conditioning-wise. Just need to get in some live action."

He's expected to get his first live work with the team on Tuesday, and with the 76ers off until Thursday against the Toronto Raptors, it's possible he makes his season debut then.

Though, obviously, there's no guarantee of anything with Harden.

Harden returned from a 10-day excused absence last week and didn't travel with the Sixers on their two-game trip to open the season.

He reportedly tried to board the team flight to Milwaukee but was stopped by a security official and left the airport. The NBA then opened an investigating whether his absence from the 76ers’ season opener was a violation of the league’s new player participation policy.

In late June, Harden picked up his $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season and then immediately requested a trade.

He could have declined the option and become a free agent but was hoping by exercising his option it would facilitate a trade.

In August, he then lambasted Morey while in China.

“Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organisation that he’s a part of,” Harden said. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organisation that he’s a part of.”

Harden has since reiterated his unwillingness to play for Morey’s Sixers, but by reporting for practice this week, has shown some acknowledgement that his best chance at being traded would be to play well in Philadelphia until a partner is found.


The NBA has begun investigating whether James Harden’s absence from the Philadelphia 76ers’ season opener is a violation of the league’s new player participation policy.

The Sixers could be fined up to $100,000 if there is no approved reason for Harden to miss Thursday’s 118-117 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks – a nationally televised game.

Last offseason, the league issued a new participation policy to crack down on healthy players opting out of regular-season games, especially marquee matchups broadcast on ABC, ESPN or TNT.

“We're looking into the facts around James Harden's availability tonight to determine whether an approved reason exists for his lack of participation,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement.

Harden returned from a 10-day excused absence earlier this week and was told to report to the team’s practice facility to get into game shape while his teammates opened the season without him.

According to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes, Harden tried to board the team flight to Milwaukee but was stopped by a security official and left the airport.

An NBA probe is the latest development in a soured relationship between the 76ers and the 10-time All-Star.

In late June, Harden picked up his $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season and then immediately requested a trade.

He could have declined the option and become a free agent but was hoping by exercising his option it would facilitate a trade.

He later blasted team president Daryl Morey in August while in China.

“Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organisation that he’s a part of,” Harden said. “Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organisation that he’s a part of.”

Harden has since reiterated his unwillingness to play for Morey’s Sixers, but by reporting for practice this week, has shown some acknowledgement that his best chance at being traded would be to play well in Philadelphia until a partner is found.

The Los Angeles Clippers – widely considered Harden’s most likely destination – have suspended trade talks with Philadelphia, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday. Wojnarowski went on to report that the Clippers are the only team that has made a “serious offer” for Harden.


The Philadelphia 76ers won’t have James Harden on the court during their season-opening two-game road trip as the 10-time All-Star will remain at the team’s practice facility and attempt to get into game shape, according to multiple reports.

It’s just another chapter in the saga of Harden, who in August blasted team president Darly Morey at a promotional event in China.

"Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of," Harden said. "Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar, and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of."

Harden's comments were a response to the 76ers telling Harden's agent that Morey was unable to find a trade for the 2017-18 NBA MVP, and the franchise wouldn't deal him unless it could find a trade that would help Philadelphia contend for a championship.

Harden picked up his $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season in late June, and then immediately requested a trade.

He could have declined the option and become a free agent but was hoping by exercising his option it would facilitate a trade.

Harden reiterated his stance earlier this month, saying his relationship with Morey is beyond repair and he still wants to be traded.

Harden returned to the team Wednesday after being away for a “personal matter” and not practicing since October 15. He will not play in Thursday’s season opener at the Milwaukee Bucks and Saturday in Toronto against the Raptors.

It remains to be seen if Harden will take the court for Philadelphia’s home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday.

The Philadelphia 76ers' wantaway guard James Harden is just "looking to find happiness" after requesting a trade and engaging in a bitter war of words with Sixers president Daryl Morey.

That is the view of Chicago Bulls center and former Sixer Andre Drummond, who hopes Harden joins a team where he feels wanted. 

Former MVP Harden requested a trade after exercising his player option for the 2023-24 season in June, the third time he has asked for a move since leaving the Houston Rockets in January 2021.

Having grown frustrated with Morey's handling of his contract situation during the offseason, Harden labelled the Sixers president a "liar" in August, declaring: "I will never be a part of an organization that he's a part of".

Harden reportedly expected to be offered a long-term deal after Philadelphia were beaten by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season. 

He has since skipped practice on two occasions as the Sixers work towards their NBA season opener, which comes on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

While some have criticised Harden's conduct, Drummond, who joined the Brooklyn Nets as part of the trade which took Harden to Philadelphia last year, has sympathy for his position.

"I don't really get into the whole gossip aspect of the NBA," Drummond told Stats Perform. "I mean, with James, it's not his first time doing this.

"I think he's just going to try to find a way to make sure that he's happy and he goes into the best situation. I don't really have much else I can say on that.

"He's just looking to find happiness, so hopefully he gets to go where he wants to."

The Sixers' hopes for 2023-24 will be carried by reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, who recently announced his intention to represent the United States at next year's Olympic Games in France. 

Embiid averaged a career-high 33.1 points to lead the NBA last season, but the 29-year-old is yet to win a championship.

Drummond, who played alongside Embiid while with the Sixers in 2021-22, believes Philadelphia need to give the center a championship-winning team sooner rather than later.

Asked about Philadelphia's title hopes, Drummond said: "I think for Joel, they have to do it now. Now's the time.

"They've waited a long time, a lot of pieces have been added to their team that maybe aren't working out. 

"I hope he does it. I hope he doesn't win against us, but I hope for the best for him. I really want him to win. I've got to play alongside him for a year and he deserves it. He works really hard."

Reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid scored 21 points in his 2023-24 preseason debut to help the Philadelphia 76ers to a 120-106 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Embiid shot just 3 of 12 from the field, but went 14 of 15 from the free-throw line in the 76ers' final tune-up prior to Thursday's season opener against the Bucks in Milwaukee. The star center added five rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes.

Starting in place of the disgruntled James Harden, De'Anthony Melton contributed a game-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting to aid in the 76ers' victory. Tyrese Maxey chipped in 12 assists and three steals along with 15 points.

Harden's status for the regular season remains in question after the 2017-18 NBA MVP did not show up for team practices earlier this week. Harden requested a trade in the summer due to his displeasure over not receiving a contract extension.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 19 points and 10 assists but shot just 5 of 16 from the floor. The Hawks open their season on the road against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.

The Bucks will also enter their showdown with the 76ers off a win, as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points and Damian Lillard had 19 in Milwaukee's 124-116 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Desmond Bane shot 5 of 9 from 3-point range and put up 24 points for Memphis, which begins its season Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans as star guard Ja Morant begins a 25-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league. 

Elsewhere on the NBA's final night of preseason games, Kyrie Irving posted a 17-point, 11-assist double-double as the Dallas Mavericks earned a 114-104 win over the Detroit Pistons. 

The Mavericks rested Luka Doncic as they prepared for Wednesday's anticipated visit to San Antonio to take on the Spurs in Victor Wembanayama's official NBA debut. Josh Green started in Doncic's place and recorded 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a 4-of-5 performance from 3-point range. 

In Houston, rookie Amen Thompson compiled 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists to help the Rockets to a 110-104 win over the Miami Heat.

Thompson, the No. 4 pick in this year's draft, will make his regular-season debut Wednesday when the Rockets visit the Orlando Magic.

Fred VanVleet and Jalen Green added 20 points for Houston, which also received 16 points and 12 rebounds from Alperen Sengun.

In Toronto, the Raptors completed a 4-0 preseason with a 134-98 rout of the Washington Wizards behind Scottie Barnes' 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. 

Pascal Siakam finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Toronto's final game before Wednesday's opener against the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves. 


The Philadelphia 76ers practiced at the team's facility on Wednesday.

James Harden, meanwhile, was reportedly in Houston.

Harden skipped the team's latest training session, and has been away from the 76ers since Sunday, according to ESPN.

He attended a team meeting in New York on Sunday, but was not at Philadelphia's shootaround the next day or at Monday's game against the Brooklyn Nets.

The disgruntled star has been frustrated with 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey for months and has demanded a trade since picking up his $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season in late June.

Despite his bitterness, Harden has still been attending training camp and practices. He has yet to play in a preseason game, but said last week he could play in the 76ers' final exhibition game on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks.

First-year Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse said he didn't know why Harden was a no-show at practice, and was still expecting him to play in Friday's game.

"From the last discussions I've had with him and from everybody, yeah,” Nurse told reporters. "I'm still going on what he said the last time I talked him, that he was going to ramp up and get ready to play Friday. We'll see how it goes."

The 76ers open the regular season Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Harden's disdain for Morey all comes down to his belief that he wasn't offered a long-term max deal that he thought he deserved this past offseason.

The 2017-18 NBA MVP and three-time league scoring champion could have declined the option and become a free agent, but was hoping by exercising his option it would facilitate a trade.

Harden said last week there was no way his fractured relationship with Morey could be repaired.

While attending a promotional event in China in August, Harden eviscerated Morey, calling him a liar.

"Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organisation that he’s a part of," Harden said at the event. "Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organisation that he’s a part of."

Harden's comments were in response to the 76ers telling Harden's agent, Mike Silverman, that Morey was unable to find a trade for the 10-time All-Star and the franchise wouldn't deal him unless it could find a trade that would help the team contend for a championship.

Acquired in a trade with the Nets in February 2022, Harden averaged 21.0 points and a league-leading 10.7 assists in 58 games last season to help the 76ers to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

For his career, the 34-year-old Harden has averaged 24.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, seven assists and 1.5 steals in exactly 1,000 regular-season games.

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is interested in having James Harden back in a Sixers uniform.

The former league MVP, however, reportedly is planning to decline his player option and become an unrestricted free agent.

Morey spoke to the media on Wednesday, one day after the team fired Doc Rivers as coach, and said Harden could return.

“We are interested in bringing him back,” Morey said.

Harden has a $35.6million player option for the 2023-24 season, and the 76ers can offer the 2017-18 league MVP a $210million, four-year deal - $8million more than any other team.

However, Harden intends to move on from the 76ers and become a free agent, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

“We have to plan for every scenario,” Morey said. “He has the option to be a free agent, and so we have to plan for all those scenarios. We feel like (Harden leaving) is a scenario where we can continue to move forward.”

Acquired in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets in February 2022, Harden was a solid complement to league MVP Joel Embiid, averaging 21.0 points and 10.7 assists in the regular season to help the 76ers to the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

In the playoffs, however, the 33-year-old Harden was maddeningly inconsistent.

He had a pair of 40-point performances but averaged just 15.1 points on 30.0 per cent shooting with 8.4 assists in his other nine games.

The 10-time All-Star reportedly wants a four-year deal with a team that has a competitive roster.

Morey feels that the 76ers have that competitive roster that Harden desires.

“Look, we have to remember there’s like 26 teams that would rather have our roster,” he said.

“We’re starting with the MVP of the league. The draft lottery yesterday was hoping to get a top pick to hope that player becomes as good as the MVP of the league.

"So we’re starting in a great spot and yeah, we have a lot of free agents, so we’re going to lose some free agents. There’s some key ones we’d like to bring back. But we feel good about the alternate scenarios as well.

“Scenario A would be to bring James back. Scenario B, if he’s not back, will be we’ll have to get creative. And we feel good about the tools available to us if that happens.”

James Harden's "perfect mindset" was lauded by Doc Rivers after the Philadelphia 76ers got the better of the Boston Celtics.

The 76ers nudged themselves ahead in their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Celtics with a 119-115 win on Monday.

Philadelphia were without talisman and NBA MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who was ruled out of Game 1 due to a sprained ankle.

Yet Harden stepped up, scoring 45 points, matching his playoff career-high.

"I thought that he had just the perfect mindset tonight," 76ers coach Rivers said of Harden.

"He really did. I'm so happy for him because it just tells you what he can do on given nights.

"The guy is a Hall of Famer, and all you hear is the other stuff about him, and he was fantastic."

Harden finished with 17-for-30 from the field and 7-for-14 three-pointers.

"I haven't felt one of those zones in a minute," Harden said. "You know what I mean? Just to be aggressive and shoot the basketball and do what I want.

"That felt really good. I'm capable of doing it, so it felt good. It felt good to make those shots, to give ourselves a chance."

Harden, though, does not feel he needs to prove himself all over again – he just wants to help the Sixers win.

"I don't need to make a statement," Harden added. "My coaches, my team-mates, what they expect me to do all throughout the course of the year was be a facilitator and get Joel the basketball and score when necessary. Joel wasn't here tonight, you know what I mean? And, we knew that going into this series.

"Now it's like, 'All right, open the floor. James, you be aggressive.' And tonight, I was aggressive. So, it's not that I'm not capable of doing it, this is my role for this team. Now, if you want me to do [what I did] tonight, then I can do that as well.

"I don't think a lot of players can do that. So yeah, I appreciate that."

For Harden's team-mate P.J. Tucker, Monday's win was evidence the Sixers are not wholly reliant on star player Embiid.

"I think we take pride in playing without the big fella," Tucker said. "As good as he is, I think it gives others opportunities to step up and play.

"Everybody took a little step up with him out. It's like a pride thing for us."

LeBron James said it was not about making a statement after helping the Los Angeles Lakers take a 2-1 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies following a flashpoint with Dillon Brooks.

A raucous sell-out crowd at Arena roared the Lakers onto a 111-101 victory in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series.

James had 25 points, while Anthony Davis had 31 and 17 rebounds in a game where the Lakers raced into a 35-9 first-quarter lead.

The Grizzlies saw Ja Morant put up 45 points after missing one game with a sore right hand and also had Brooks ejected 17 seconds into the third quarter for a flagrant foul when he struck James in the groin.

It did not take the officials long to toss Brooks from the game, but James said the focus was merely on getting the win on the board.

"I didn't make a statement," James said. "I've been doing this too long. 

"I'm not making any statements. We had the opportunity to come home and play well on our home floor, and we did that. No statement was made. 

"We just wanted to play well, and we got a win. I don't need to make statements."

Brooks had been taunted by the Lakers crowd all game and head coach Darvin Ham said the vociferous home support was crucial in their efforts.

"I thought our crowd was phenomenal," Ham said. "Really felt them in the building. Thank God we gave them something to cheer about, the way we came out."

While Brooks did not address the media, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins merely said of the incident: "Officials made a call."

Morant scored 22 consecutive points for the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter, while he also had 13 assists and nine rebounds. Ultimately, though, Memphis' lowest first-quarter return in franchise history proved too big an obstacle to overcome.

"I think we won by double digits in the last three quarters, so obviously that first quarter pretty much hurt us," Morant said. 

"I feel pretty good. Obviously some stuff you've just got to play through and tolerate.

"In that fourth quarter, I was just trying to win the game. Got it going pretty good, making shots, and just couldn't get it over that hump."

Anthony Davis bounced back while LeBron James scored 25 points as the Los Angeles Lakers claimed a 2-1 first-round series lead with a 111-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Ja Morant returned from a hand injury for the Grizzlies, scoring a game-high 45 points, including 22 in a row for his team in the fourth quarter at Arena.

But the damage was done early, as the Grizzlies shot three-of-25 in the first quarter as the Lakers raced to a 35-9 lead.

Dillon Brooks was ejected for a flagrant 2 foul early in the third quarter following a hit to James' midsection, following tension between the pair after the former's comments after Game 2.

James put that aside to score 25 points on 10-of-20 shooting with nine rebounds, while Davis scored a team-high 31 points with 17 rebounds and three blocks.

The Grizzlies scored the final 10 points of the second quarter to close to 53-37 at half-time but were not helped by Brooks' ejection with 11:43 left in the third.

The Lakers kept Memphis at arm's length for most of the game, although Morant's remarkable fourth-quarter scoring run offered hope, getting within 10 points after a three-pointer with 2:54 left.

Jaren Jackson Jr lost the battle against Davis, contributing 13 points with five rebounds while Desmond Bane was kept to 18 points on three-of-seven three-point shooting. Morant made six-of-10 three-pointers, with 13 assists and nine rebounds.

Heat upset Bucks but left with injury worries

The Miami Heat claimed a 2-1 series lead with a 121-99 victory over the Eastern Conference top seed Milwaukee Bucks who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo due to a bruised lower back again.

But the excitement for the Heat was quelled by a worrying knee injury suffered late by Victor Oladipo, while Jimmy Butler battled a sore glute.

Butler top scored for Miami with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting in 28 minutes. Duncan Robinson, on his 29th birthday, added 20 points on five-of-six three-point shooting.

Milwaukee shot at 44.7 per cent from the field, giving up 18 turnovers. Khris Middleton top scored with 23 points and six assists but was guilty for five turnovers.

Nets swept again, Suns go 3-1 up

The Brooklyn Nets suffered a first-round series sweep for the second straight year after the Philadelphia 76ers triumphed 96-88 in Game 4 despite the absence of Joel Embiid.

Tobias Harris scored a game-high 25 points with 12 rebounds, while James Harden had 17 points on four-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds and 11 assists. Embiid was out due to sprained right knee.

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie managed a team-high 20 points and Nic Claxton had 19 points with 12 rebounds and four blocks.

The Phoenix Suns took a 3-1 lead in their series against the Los Angeles Clippers with a 112-100 win headlined by Kevin Durant's 31 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Devin Booker's 30 points.

The Philadelphia 76ers will need Joel Embiid back for the Eastern Conference semi-finals, despite their Game 4 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

That is according to Tyrese Maxey, who labelled team-mate Embiid as a "leader", though the Sixers secured a 4-0 series sweep of the Nets without him on Saturday.

Embiid led the league for points per game in the regular season (33.1), but suffered a knee sprain in Game 3 against Brooklyn.

While a series comeback still seemed unlikely, the Nets had some hope on Saturday when they led by eight at half-time at Barclays Center, only for the Sixers to fight back and take the game 96-88.

Philadelphia will face either the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semis, which the Celtics lead 2-1 ahead of Game 4 on Sunday, and Maxey hopes Embiid can be back in time.

"It starts with Joel," the Sixers guard said. "He's the leader of this team and for him, he takes the guys before the game and he told us good luck and we appreciate him for that. And we need him to get healthy."

Tobias Harris top-scored with 25 on Saturday, while James Harden had an impressive outing with 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and he echoed Maxey's comments.

"Obviously, today was big for us, so we can get [the] big fella healthy," Harden said. "That's priority number one."

Coach Doc Rivers had explained the situation with Embiid before the game, but clarified further afterwards, suggesting the Cameroonian perhaps has a "50 per cent" chance of making it for the next round.

"I just don't know," he said. "I would say, right now, it's probably the same percentage I said before the game... probably 50 per cent, at best."

James Harden could not understand why he was ejected from Game 3 between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets, although he was not the only individual frustrated with the officiating on Thursday.

A hot-tempered affair saw a player from each side ejected and the Nets claiming Joel Embiid should have joined them.

Embiid and Nic Claxton clashed after the MVP frontrunner was fouled in the first quarter. As Claxton stared Embiid down, the Sixers big man appeared to aim a kick at his opponent.

While Embiid was issued a flagrant foul one, Claxton was hit with a technical and would later be ejected for a second technical, again for confronting Embiid.

Embiid later described himself as "too valuable" to allow that situation to escalate, but team-mate Harden was thrown out of the game in a separate incident.

He caught Nets forward Royce O'Neale while in possession late in the third quarter, and referee Tony Brothers explained after the game: "Based on the point of contact directly to the groin, it rose to the level of excessive and ejection."

Harden disagreed, not even believing the incident was worthy of a foul.

"Unacceptable, unacceptable flagrant two," Harden said. "First time I've been ejected.

"I'm not labelled as a dirty player, and I didn't hit him in a private area. Somebody is draped on you like that defensively, that's a natural basketball reaction. I didn't hit him hard enough for him to fall down like that.

"For a flagrant two, it's unacceptable. This is a playoff game. We've seen around the league, things are much worse than that play was.

"Honestly, I didn't think it was a foul on me. But that's unacceptable. It can't happen."

By contrast, Brothers said Embiid's foul was "unnecessary" but "didn't rise to the level of excessive" as contact was made with Claxton's leg.

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn responded: "I don't think I've ever seen that in my career before.

"For a guy to intentionally kick someone in an area that none of us want to be kicked at or towards, for him to continue to play...

"I've never seen that before in a game and a guy continues to play. Intentional."

Despite Harden playing only 29 minutes and Embiid scoring just 14 points, the 76ers won 102-97 to take a 3-0 series lead.

Doc Rivers' "cursing" had the desire effect as the Philadelphia 76ers stepped it up in the second half to take a 2-0 lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Nets led Game 2 at Wells Fargo Center on Monday by five points at half-time and Rivers decided just over a minute into the third quarter it was time for him to unleash some verbal volleys.

Sixers head coach Rivers' intervention sparked his side into life and they went on to win 96-84.

Tyrese Maxey top scored with 33 points, including six three-pointers, while Joel Embiid finished with 20 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks.

Tobias Harris also weighed in with 20 points and 12 rebounds as Philadelphia took command of the first-round series before travelling to New York for Game 3 on Thursday.

Asked what Rivers said during a huddle early in the third quarter, James Harden said: "Cursing us out. That's it. Just cursing us out.

"The first possession, we didn't run a play that he drew up, for whatever reason. But we got it right."

Rivers felt the Sixers made life difficult for themselves before raising their game to dominate the second half.

"We got guys to the right space," Rivers said. "Joel was patient. James was patient. We moved the ball, we got every shot we wanted.

"That was a hard game, because we got outside of ourselves in the first half. I thought we were forcing it. We were trying, nothing selfish, but we're trying to score all of us, instead of being there giving you the answers with their traps. Trust your stuff, trust your spacing, move the ball and the right guys are going to end up with the ball.

"And if we do it enough, eventually, Joel, you're gonna get one-on-ones, and then you're going to dominate the game. And I thought we did that in the second half."

Cam Johnson led the Nets with 28 points but they were unable to level the series.

The Golden State Warriors' title defense is on rocky ground after Monday's 114-106 loss to the Sacramento Kings left them 2-0 down in their playoffs first round series.

To make matters worse for the reigning champions, Draymond Green faces a ban for Game 3 back at Chase Center after being ejected for stomping on Domantas Sabonis with 7:03 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Kings led 91-87 at the time with the contest wide open until Sacramento pulled away with 12 of the final 17 points. The Warriors were left to rue 20 turnovers, along with making 13-of-40 three-point attempts.

De'Aaron Fox, who finished with 24 points on 10-of-23 shooting with nine assists, made a three-point shot with 2:17 remaining before Sabonis assisted Davion Mitchell's triple for 112-103 with 1:17 left. Sabonis scored 24 points on eight-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.

Warriors guard Stephen Curry shot three-of-13 from three-point range, finishing with 28 points and six assists, while Klay Thompson made five-of-10 from beyond the arc in his 21-point haul.

Andrew Wiggins contributed strongly again with 22 points and five rebounds, while Green had four rebounds, five assists and eight points before his ejection.

The Green incident came when Sabonis fell to the ground amid a scrum of players attempting to rebound Malik Monk's failed two-point attempt.

The Kings center appeared to grab Green's leg as the Warriors tried to launch a break, prompting the reaction. Green's right foot landed heavily on Sabonis' chest, with the Lithuanian remaining on the floor in pain as the officials reviewed the play.

The officials called Sabonis for a technical foul for grabbing Green's leg, with the Warriors center given a flagrant-2 foul, prompting his automatic ejection and potential suspension.

The Kings fans at Golden 1 Center yelled at Green during the review, with the four-time All-Star egging them on, waving them on and holding a hand to his ear calling for more.

Maxey stars as 76ers open up 2-0 lead

Tyrese Maxey drained six three-pointers as the Philadelphia 76ers claimed a 2-0 lead in their playoffs first round series with a 96-84 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Maxey scored a game-high 33 points for the 76ers, including a triple from Joel Embiid's pass with 1:54 remaining to open up a 12-point lead. Maxey's total was a playoff career-high.

Embiid pulled down 19 rebounds, with 20 points on six-of-11 shooting and seven assists, while Tobias Harris added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Philadelphia showcased their depth, with James Harden only having eight points on three-of-13 shooting and seven assists.

The Nets had started strongly, leading by 10 points in the second quarter with Cam Johnson having 22 first-half points but he finished with only 28. Brooklyn only used eight players.

The 76ers turned the game in their favour with a 24-14 third quarter, condemning the Nets to their seventh straight postseason loss, having been swept by the Boston Celtics at this stage last year.

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