76ers face James Harden contract problem after another playoff failure

Early in the fourth quarter of Game 6 between the Sixers and Heat, an exhausted Doc Rivers abandoned attempts to scheme his team back into it and appealed directly to its competitive spirit. “Fight for this, ”implored Rivers. “Come on guys, fight for this. ” They did not. Miami’s lead swelled to 19, then to 20 before Philadelphia closed the gap in garbage time, ending the game — and its season — with a 99-90 defeat.

At the moment, Rivers was addressing everyone in that Sixers huddle. His message, however, was likely aimed squarely at James Harden. In the biggest game of Philadelphia’s season, Harden played like he did not want to be there. He attempted nine shots, fewer than anyone in the Sixers starting lineup but Danny Green — who left the game after three minutes with a knee injury. In the third quarter Harden had more turnovers (two) than shots. He attempted one more in the fourth quarter. He did not attempt a free throw. His final line: 43 minutes, 11 points, nine assists, four turnovers.

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