LOS ANGELES: James Harden scored 38 points and spearheaded a dramatic late comeback as the Philadelphia 76ers ended the Milwaukee Bucks´ 16-game winning streak with a 133-130 victory on Saturday.
A titanic battle between the Eastern Conference leading Bucks and third-placed Sixers lived up to the billing, with Philadelphia fighting back from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to pull off a superb win at Milwaukee´s Fiserv Forum.
While the Sixers´ Joel Embiid finished with 31 points and Tyrese Maxey added 26, Harden was the undeniable driving force of a pulsating late rally that took Philadelphia to victory.
The 10-time NBA All-Star poured in 21 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter as Philadelphia outscored Milwaukee 48-31 in the final frame.
Harden also laid on 10 assists and hauled down nine rebounds in a fine all-round performance.
"He was fantastic, big shot after big shot, he led the comeback — he was just James Harden," Embiid said of his team-mate.
Harden paid tribute to Embiid after arguably the best offensive display from the duo since they joined forces at Philadelphia.
"We´ve figured it out, he´s the lead scorer and we try to give him the ball and give him shots," said Harden, who moved to Philadelphia last year from Brooklyn.
"One game at a time, we try to get better quarter by quarter and just keep pushing into the postseason."
Milwaukee were left ruing a late collapse that seemed improbable as the Bucks surged 18 points clear late in the game, leading 95-77 with only 2:41 left in the third quarter.
The Sixers trimmed the gap to 14 points by the start of the fourth, and then went on a 15-2 run to transform the contest.
Milwaukee clung on to a slender lead with less than two minutes remaining, but a 29-foot three-pointer from Harden put the Sixers within one at 125-124.
Harden set up Embiid for a three-pointer to put Philadelphia 127-125 ahead with 42 seconds remaining and the Sixers closed out the win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee scorers with 34 points and 13 rebounds, Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday recorded 26 points each and Grayson Allen had 20.
Milwaukee remain top of the East with a 45-18 record, half a game ahead of Boston. Philadelphia improved to 41-22.
In other games on Saturday, Miami boosted their playoff hopes with a 117-109 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Bam Adebayo led the Miami scorers with 30 points from 10-of-12 shooting while Tyler Herro added 20 points.
Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin weighed in with 15 points apiece as Miami improved to 34-31 to remain in seventh place.
The win came a day after Miami had fallen at home to the New York Knicks.
"The best thing for us coming off a game like that was to play the very next night," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "To get the win was really important."
In Cleveland, the Cavaliers cruised to a 114-90 win over the Detroit Pistons, with Donovan Mitchell leading a comfortable win with 20 points. Five Cleveland players finished in double digits.
The Toronto Raptors ground out a 116-109 win on the road against the Washington Wizards.
Fred VanVleet made six three-pointers in a 25-point haul for Toronto while Gary Trent Jr finished with 26 off the bench.