The first half of Saturday's game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves was a tight one. Heading into halftime, the Sixers had just a four-point lead in Joel Embiid's first game back since he got injured.
When the third quarter rolled around, though, the Sixers established a groove and went on a bit of a run so, by the time the final quarter came around, they had a 14-point lead. Although it felt like a blowout win was on the horizon for the Sixers, the Timberwolves wouldn't give up.
In the fourth quarter, Minnesota outscored the Sixers 30-25 and started teasing a comeback. Usually, the Sixers would lean on their MVP-caliber center Joel Embiid to come in and close the game out, but he was still shaking off the rust after missing 10-straight games.
So, Philly went to its next best option in Tobias Harris. In previous seasons, Harris's ability to earn his coaches and teammates' trust down the stretch of a game was questionable. These days, there are no longer any concerns asked about the veteran forward's mentality or skillset in crunch time as he can get it done.
“Win by any means,” Tobias Harris said after Saturday's game. “That’s really my mentality, and I know, fourth quarter, it’s crunch time. There are ways to get the mismatches that I want out there, then to get to my spots and just reading the game. I thought tonight, I was able to get those spots.”
In the fourth quarter against Minnesota, Harris played all but two minutes. During that time on the floor, he knocked down four of his six shots from the field and hit on all four of his free throw attempts. Harris led the Sixers in fourth quarter, scoring 12 points.
“My teammates out there were able to have the confidence and continue to push me to go get the ball again and again,” Harris explained. “It’s just win by any means and just an internal confidence to know that now you gotta live and die by the results, whatever it may be. By knowing the intention behind it, I know my intention is to do whatever I can to walk in that locker room with a win.”
Thanks to Harris's 32-point performance, the Sixers collected a victory over Minnesota on Saturday night. Although they almost teased a comeback from a notable 19-point lead later on in the game, the Sixers relied on Harris to keep them out in front and help them come away with the victory.