The Charlotte Hornets once again gave a strong effort, but ultimately came up short against the Philadelphia 76ers 110-106. Charlotte fought hard, but couldn’t overcome an unusually high number of turnovers, Joel Embiid, and the officiating…more on that to come. The Hornets, who relied on rookies and G-leaguers for heavy minutes, took a team that was one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals last year to the wire two games in a row…all without their starting back-court. These are type of games that can be beneficial down the road if the young guys are called upon again, or crack into the rotation. Let’s look at some observations from this game.
I usually don’t go there, but the officiating was bad tonight. There isn’t any way around it. The Sixers and Joel Embiid got a friendly whistle from the officiating crew tonight. Embiid shot nearly as many free throws by himself as the Hornets team – going to the charity stripe 19 times to Charlotte’s 21. The Hornets couldn’t buy a call driving to the basket, as Gordon Hayward was often getting mugged when taking to the cup with no whistle. How this game was called definitely helped determine outcome as Philly was in the bonus early.
Gordon Hayward’s Best Game:
Tonight, was Gordon Hayward’s best game offensively. He scored 31 points on 10-18 shooting and passed for seven assists. Hayward was aggressive early in the game with ten first quarter points. He could’ve scored even more points if he had gotten a few calls from the refs, but it was good to see Gordon be aggressive and have the type of game fans have been clamoring for all season.
Joel Embiid dominates again:
Joel Embiid followed up his 43 point performance Monday with 32 more points tonight. Embiid was able to get to the foul line early and often, as he was 15-19 from the charity stripe. Late in the game Embiid was matched up with PJ Washington, who was 6’7 and playing with 5 fouls. That allowed Embiid to have his way and get anywhere he wanted in the paint. Late in the game Embiid was able to hit a contested 3-pointer that pretty much closed the contest out. In the last week Charlotte has been dominated by Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Vucevic. The Indiana Pacers have reportedly made Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner available in trade talks and Charlotte should pick up the phone and make a call.
Charlotte only played eight players tonight with 4 of their starters playing over 40 minutes. This was the 2nd straight game this week where Charlotte was in position to get a win, but just couldn’t finish the game. Having your starting back court, starting center and key role players out is tough, but Charlotte has showed great grit and determination by making both of these games vs the Sixers competitive.
Charlotte takes on the Sacramento Kings Friday night before they start a six-game road trip out west. Friday’s game will be the Hornets’ last home game until after Christmas. This West coast trip will be a crucial part of the Hornets’ schedule, but luckily Charlotte is expected to have their full roster back for the beginning of the road trip.