Even without 5 rotational pieces Charlotte took the Philadelphia 76ers to overtime and had opportunities to beat them, but ultimately came up short 127-124. It was the type of effort that showed what this Hornets team is made of. Even without stars like LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier the fans showed up on a Monday and supported this team – something that most likely wouldn’t have happened in the past. In the end Joel Embiid was too dominate – scoring 43 points on an efficient 15-20 from the floor, including 15 rebounds and seven assists. The combination of Nick Richards, PJ Washington and Miles Bridges did the best they could on Embiid, but he was too big and strong for the undermanned Hornets. One key play that cost the Hornets was when Kelly Oubre rushed a three-pointer with 38 seconds left with the Hornets up two, instead of pulling the ball out. Kelly was going for the kill shot, but he missed and Embiid would tie the game and send it into overtime. That’s the only complaint for Kelly I have, because he was outstanding. Here are some observations from the first of two meetings with the Sixers this week.
Kelly Oubre Balls Out:
Kelly had his 2nd consecutive strong performance, scoring 35 points while also grabbing five rebounds. Oubre signed a 2-year contract, but has stated he likes playing for the Hornets. If I was the front office I would sign Kelly to an extension when his contract is up, as he’s proven to be a valuable player who can start or be a 6th man. Oubre plays with a certain dawg-like mentality that an undermanned team needs to play well. It was a very strong performance all-around from Kelly and he’ll need to do it again vs the Sixers on Wednesday.
Nick Richards only played 18 minutes, but in those minutes he was 5-5 from the floor and grabbed five rebounds. I personally would’ve liked to have seem him get a few more minutes just to throw a larger body at Joel Embiid. Against PJ Washington, Miles Bridges and whoever else ended up switched on the big man, Embiid was able to have his way with the Hornets in the paint. Defending against dominate centers has been an issue all season. Also, on another note, it makes you wonder where Vernon Carey is on this team? He is a big body and if anything he could’ve come in and played spot minutes just to try to body-up Joel.
Rookies Take Advantage of Opportunity:
Rookies James Bouknight and JT Thor made the most of their opportunities. Both players had monster dunks that invigorated the crowd in the Spectrum Center. Bouknight scored 11 points on 4-8 shooting, showing off his ability to create offense. JT Thor scored eight points. This was just a glimpse into the future, but if these guys continue to develop the future is bright.
In overtime, Charlotte had plenty of great looks but couldn’t knock them down. Whether it was layups or open threes, the Hornets were absolutely gassed having played the 2nd night of a back-to-back…and this game going to overtime. Charlotte only played eight guys with four players playing over 40 minutes. Gordon Hayward was 5-19 from the floor, Miles was 6-16, and PJ Washington was 6-17. Charlotte has played one of the toughest schedules so far this year and it was apparent versus Philly that they were fatigued.
Charlotte will play the Sixers again on Wednesday night and then Sacramento on Friday. Splitting those next 2 games would be huge, as it looks like the earliest the guys out could come back is Monday at Dallas.