After a dominating effort Houston's James Harden salutes the 76ers & their fans

Rockets 76ers Basketball
Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, and Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid walk down the court during an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in Philadelphia.

The sellout crowd of 20,588 at the Wells Fargo Center provided a playoff atmosphere but they may have also given a boost to 76ers killer James Harden.

After Harden contributed 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in the Houston Rockets 123-118 win on Friday over the Sixers, the MVP candidate took time to salute the Philadelphia fans.

He said the atmosphere, with the fans at a frequent fever pitch, was truly somethign to savor.

"Philly fans are always exciting," Harden said. "Especially when you got young guys, they have a future."

So does Harden, who earned his fifth all-star selection this year.

"The atmosphere was good, it got me going a little bit and I am sure it got my teammates going," Harden said. "It is always fun to play in games like that."

The 27-year-old Harden was coming off a poor effort for him in Wednesday's 120-109 loss at Boston. He had 30 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, but shot just 6 of 18 from the field, including 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.

"I had to get back in the gym (Thursday), putting up extra shots in the gym," he said. "I had to get my confidence back a little bit."

It's amazing that the 6-foot-5 point guard might see his confidence slip, especially during a season in which he is now averaging 29.1 points, 11.6 assists and 8.2 rebounds. He has certainly adjusted well to the move from shooting guard to point guard under first-year coach Mike D'Antoni.

Against the Sixers he shot 16 of 28 from the field, including 6 of 11 from three-point range while hitting 13 of 14 foul shots.

"When he has nights like tonight I don't know how you can guard him," D'Antoni said.

Harden was not only gracious to the fans, but to Sixers center Joel Embiid as well. Embiid had 32 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in just over 28 minutes.

"He is amazing, he is a problem," Harden said of Embiid. "(He is) young, obviously he's big, 7-2, athletic, he can shoot the three. He has an extremely bright future as we all can see."

He feels the same about the Sixers.

"They have a lot of guys who play hard and obviously he (Embiid) is the face of the franchise."

And Harden is the face of a Houston franchise that is now 35-15 and won without second leading scorer Eric Gordon, who missed his second straight game with lower back tightness.

Harden did enough to compensate and then he was gracious afterwards to the fans and the team that he single-handily destroyed.