3 observations after Sixers work through shooting struggles to beat Hornets


3 observations after Sixers work through shooting struggles to beat Hornets originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers didn’t need good three-point shooting or anything resembling their finest performance to beat the Hornets on Saturday night.

While the Sixers made a season-low five threes on 25 attempts at Spectrum Center, they still picked up a 97-89 win over Charlotte.

They’re 28-13 at the season’s halfway point and on a five-game winning streak. The Hornets fell to 9-31.

Joel Embiid reached the 30-point mark for a 20th consecutive game, recording 33 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Only Wilt Chamberlain and James Harden have longer 30-point streaks in NBA history.

Tobias Harris added 21 points, six assists and five rebounds. Tyrese Maxey posted 16 points and eight assists.

Miles Bridges (25 points) and Brandon Miller (23 points) were Charlotte’s leading scorers.

Both teams had substantial injury lists.

For the Sixers, De’Anthony Melton, Patrick Beverley, Robert Covington, Mo Bamba and Jaden Springer were out. The Hornets were down LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Mark Williams and Nick Richards.

The Sixers will return home and play the Spurs on Monday night at Wells Fargo Center. Here are observations on their victory in Charlotte:

First-quarter Embiid still awfully productive

With both teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back, each offense started slowly.

Embiid rose high to block a Bridges layup, though the Sixers did have a few defensive breakdowns in the first quarter. Terry Rozier scored six quick points and the Hornets were much more competitive than they’d been in a 53-point December loss to the Sixers.

Embiid drew fouls with his normal ease. He capitalized a couple of times on smaller Hornets’ reaches and swipes at the ball, shot 7 for 7 at the foul line in the first quarter, and had 15 points through 12 minutes. Entering the game, Embiid’s 11.8 first-quarter points per game led the NBA. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was second with a 9.8 first-period average.

In Saturday’s first quarter, Embiid did almost everything for the Sixers’ offense. Maxey didn’t score until the final minute of the first and the game was even at 24-all through the opening period.

Sixers low on juice 

The Sixers began the second quarter on a 6-0 Embiid-less run.

Going into the game, Maxey’s 8.8 second-quarter scoring average ranked third in the league. Despite a subpar shooting night, he did his usual damage early in Saturday’s second period, driving into the paint with exceptional pace.

Maxey picked up a steal shortly after Embiid came back in and dished the ball to Danuel House Jr., who sprinted up the floor and threw down an and-one slam.

At that stage, it would’ve been logical to assume the Sixers were about to break the game open and flex their superior talent. The Hornets instead closed the second quarter on a 10-0 spurt. The Sixers’ defensive rebounding troubles were prominent on a possession late in the second quarter that featured three Charlotte offensive boards, including two by rookie center Nathan Mensah against Embiid. Rozier eventually hit a jumper and the Hornets’ deficit was 46-45 at halftime.

While that stretch wasn’t pretty at all for the Sixers, the dip in their level was understandable. They were an undermanned team finishing up a back-to-back, firing open jumpers short, and facing an opponent near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

Clearly, the circumstances were not conducive to the Sixers being especially motivated and bringing their A-game to Charlotte.

Harris, House step up in the fourth

The Hornets defended well to start the second half, swatting several shots and forcing the Sixers to work harder than they likely expected. Cody Martin flew out to block a Maxey three-point attempt. Embiid was whistled for an offensive foul as he tried to secure post-up position against PJ Washington.

Kelly Oubre Jr. and Marcus Morris Sr. misfired on three-point tries during a stint where the Sixers had no conventional point guard on the floor. Rozier converted a layup over Embiid to give Charlotte the lead and Bridges drilled a three on the Hornets’ final possession of the third quarter, putting the Sixers down four entering the fourth.

Harris was valuable for the Sixers early in the fourth quarter, making a couple of tough mid-range jumpers and helping to prevent any sort of panic about possibly having to hastily sub Embiid back in. Maxey drove and kicked to House for a corner three that put the Sixers up 80-75.

House played a season-high 27 minutes and posted nine points on 3-for-4 shooting, three rebounds, a block and a steal. His athleticism and energy certainly boosted the Sixers on Saturday. House seemed to surprise Rozier in the fourth quarter with an impressive chase-down rejection.

In his first season as Sixers head coach, Nick Nurse has regularly been willing to close games with non-starters. House deservedly played the final 16:10 in Charlotte over Oubre and was a key reason why the Sixers avoided a let-down loss.





Source link: https://sports.yahoo.com/3-observations-sixers-shooting-struggles-025206857.html

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