Despite Harden Ejection, Sixers Take Down Nets to Go Up 3-0

They had us biting our nails in the last couple minutes, but Maxey delivered once again.

Tyrese Maxey was dominant in the Sixers-Nets Game 3 showdown last night. / Photograph by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Sixers’ playoff series vs. the Nets moved to Brooklyn for Game 3 last night, and yes, Ben Simmons was on the bench, dressed, with uncharacteristic drab, all in black. The Sixers scored first but then were bedeviled by foul calls, including an early one on Joel Embiid (whose dribbling was lauded yesterday by the New York Times) for a pretty egregious retaliatory move.

The refs reviewed it and called flagrant ones on both Joel and Claxton, which infuriated Nets coach Jacque Vaughn, not to mention the crowd and the Brooklyn Twitterverse. Even Alaa and Kate had to admit Joel got away with one. All that set the Nets off on a 7-0 run. Thank God, Maxey got hot. Halfway through the quarter: 21-13 Nets. That’s when our guys poured it on: The next thing you knew, it was 23-24 Nets, and Claxton had laid Joel out again. Oooh, fisticuffs! Well, shoving, anyway. Harden tied it at 28 with a three-pointer, and Maxey sat with his second foul. De’Anthony Melton was having a nice game. Tight Sixer defense led to a shot-clock violation. Close of the first: 32-28 Sixers.

In the second, the Nets were hit with a second shot-clock turnover. Scoring slowed way down; it was 42-36 halfway through. A big Maxey three put the Sixers up 11 with four minutes to go. End of first half: Sixers, 58-47. I gotta say, I agree with this:

In the third, the Nets went on a 14-0 run and took the lead, 61-60, then promptly lost it on a Harden three. Embiid had another hard fall and limped off the court. Holy hell. He stayed in, though. Third foul on Embiid, for bodying up Claxton — who else? — halfway through. The Sixers had gone ice-cold — then had a shot-clock violation to boot. And James Harden got ejected for throwing a nothingburger at Royce O’Neal with 13 seconds left in the third.

Eh, you be the judge. “It looks like a haphazard approach” to officiating, Alaa offered. Ya think? But maybe it would piss the Sixers off? Not exactly. Brooklyn put up 35 points to the Sixers’ 18 to close out the quarter up 82-76.

Three minutes into the fourth, Embiid clocked his fourth foul. The Sixers were down 87-81, but at least Claxton got ejected, for taunting. Things were getting a mite chaotic out there. A Harris three — finally! — brought the Sixers within two. But Joel was called for his fifth foul — yikes! What an unsettling game. The Nets were up five with two minutes left when Maxey hit a three, then snagged a steal and a layup — tie game! Oy, this one was crazy-making. Another Maxey three! He’d scored the last 10 Sixers points. An imaginary foul was called on P.J. Tucker, which Doc challenged — rightfully. And lost the challenge. Sucks. Two-point game, 30 seconds left. A Maxey miss — followed by a HUGE block by Embiid and a Nets foul. With eight seconds remaining. Tucker stood at the foul line — another makeup call, perhaps? He missed the first but buried the second, and the Nets threw the inbound away! A Sixers win, and they lead the Nets, 3-0, in the series. The two teams will meet again on Saturday at 1 p.m. and, if needed, which it won’t be, Monday at 7:30. …