For the first three years of his NBA career, James Anderson mostly came off the bench and provided some scoring. Now he's trying to build off the best game of his career as he continues navigating being a full-time starter.
With a career scoring average of 4.2 points, the 20th overall pick in 2010 had reached double figures in scoring just 10 times in 125 games and twice in Philadelphia's first eight contests this season. The shooting guard, though, had a breakout performance in a 123-117 overtime victory Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets, making 12 of 16 shots to finish with a career-high 36 points - nearly double his previous high of 19 set against Golden State on April 26, 2012, while with San Antonio.
''I got in a rhythm early and guys did a good job finding me,'' said Anderson, who made 6-of-8 three-pointers as his scoring average jumped to 10.1 points. ''I finally got an opportunity and it's great timing.''
The 76ers (5-4) played without rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who missed the game because of a bruised left arch. In his place, Anderson carried more of the offense and Tony Wroten had a memorable game of his own, becoming the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double in his first start with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
"I have never got a triple-double in my life. Middle school, high school, college - never," Wroten said. "So it's just crazy."
Still, Carter-Williams' absence leaves many glaring holes for Philadelphia. The 11th overall pick leads the 76ers in assists (7.6) and steals (2.6) and is second in scoring at 17.4 points per game. He also leads all rookies in minutes played at 36.6 per game.
The 76ers will once again rely on small forward Evan Turner, who has scored 20 or more points in eight of the team's nine games.
Even if Anderson and Wroten can again replace his scoring production, Carter-Williams will be missed on the defensive end, where 76ers will have to contain Hawks point guard Jeff Teague. Averaging 18.1 points and 9.9 assists - both career highs - Teague has been the catalyst for a revamped Atlanta attack this season.
The Hawks are scoring 103.0 points per game - five more than their 2012-13 average - thanks in large part to Teague, who has more control of the offense this season under first-year coach Mike Budenholzer. Still, Atlanta has been sloppy at times, and its 15 turnovers led to 23 points for New York in a 95-91 loss Wednesday night.
''We made mistakes,'' said Teague, who had 25 points and eight assists but also four turnovers. ''We're still a new group and we're still trying to figure one another out. We're getting better every game."
Al Horford, who added 23 points on 11-of-14 shooting, averaged 15.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in four games versus Philadelphia last season.
''I feel good about our team,'' Horford said. ''We just need to learn how to hold the leads and finish out these games. We've let some of these slip away, so we need to be better in that regard.''
The teams split four games last season, but Philadelphia has won seven of the last nine meetings.