The Sixers picked up their seventh straight win on Friday night.
The team blew through the Hornets for a 121-82 victory at the Spectrum Center, improving to 47-22 on the season. The Sixers’ 39-point margin of victory was their highest of the year.
Charlotte lost its fifth straight game and fell to 22-50.
Heading into Friday’s Celtics game at Portland, the Sixers were half a game behind Boston for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Joel Embiid continued to play special basketball with a performance of 38 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks in 29 minutes.
James Harden had a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Tobias Harris added 18 points.
Jalen McDaniels missed his second straight game with a right hip contusion. LaMelo Ball, Cody Martin, Mark Williams and Theo Maledon have been sidelined with Charlotte’s injuries.
The Sixers will wrap up their three-game road trip on Saturday with a matchup against the Pacers. Here are some observations on their eighth wins from nine tries in March:
Harris having fun
The Sixers’ first game was sweet and familiar: Harden to Embiid for an easy layup.
However, their turnover issues from Wednesday’s win over the Cavs were carried over to the early stages. Embiid picked one up trying to force the ball into Harris from a flex cut. It made sense that the Sixers wanted to target Harris early; in his last six games, he had averaged just 8.2 points and shot 28.6 percent from the floor. Harris made his first two shots, knocking down a wing three and backing Kelly Oubre Jr. for a bucket, but his first stint lasted just over four minutes. Harris was called for his second foul on a jumper from Oubre and Georges Niang replaced.
Harris came back into the game in the second quarter. The Hornets managed to stay close for a while in part because of a poor defensive stretch from the Sixers. Harris was beaten on the rebound by PJ Washington for a layup. Rookie guard Bryce McGowens passed Shake Milton before converting a hoop and one.
Everything fell into place once Embiid returned, however. Milton made a layup following a block from Embiid, who passed Darryl Dawkins on Friday for sixth place in blocks in Sixers history. After a steal from Harris, Harden sent a pass between the legs to Embiid for a dunk. Harris has often pointed out that he thrives when the team’s offense is fluid and the Sixers’ pace is lively. Sure enough, he scored five points late in the second quarter and finished the first half with 13 on 5-for-7 shooting. That was more than he posted in any of the six games. previous ones.
Harris shared a laugh with PJ Tucker early in the third quarter after trying to dunk Nick Richards. Although Harris didn’t quite make it, he made a mistake. Less than 30 seconds later, he managed to throw one on a Sixers fast break.
Ruthless and extremely efficient Embiid
Facing a team he scored 53 points against in December, Embiid didn’t completely overwhelm the Hornets right away. Third-year center Richards recovered well to lock him inside after first biting a fake pump.
However, Embiid inevitably found his game. On a 12-0 run from the Sixers in the first quarter, he went one and one leaner shortly before hitting an eyes-closed layup and one he got. flipped over his shoulder.
Midway through the second quarter, the 29-year-old appeared to be at his peak and the Harden-Embiid pick-and-roll was rampant. Harden had six assists in the second quarter and passed Bob Cousy for 20th on the NBA’s all-time assists list. The 33-year-old had a night without a shot (4-for-15 from the floor, 0-for-6 from three-pointers), but still achieved his 74th career triple-double.
Meanwhile, Embiid scored all six of his field goals in the second quarter. He remained ruthless after intermission, continuing to play hard defensively en route to a third consecutive performance in four blocks while looking unstoppable offensively. After starting 1 for 4 from the floor, Embiid sank 15 of his next 17 field goals. Despite not playing a fourth quarter minute in three of the Sixers’ last five wins, Embiid has scored over 30 points in each of his last eight outings.
save their legs
Backup big man Kai Jones was a bright spot for the Hornets. He made a few hooks against Embiid in the third quarter and it looked like the Sixers might need to wait longer than desired to replace their starters.
Any slight concerns about this quickly evaporated. Embiid took a jumper off the top of the key, was fouled by Jones and watched with glee as the shot bounced high off the back edge before falling through the hoop. He replaced with 1:36 to go in the third.
Paul Reed (eight points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) and Dewayne Dedmon split time in the fourth quarter. Danuel House Jr., Furkan Korkmaz and Charlotte native Jaden Springer also had extended runs in fourth. Montrezl Harrell was the only active Sixers not to play.
Clearly, the stress-free finish was ideal for the Sixers on the first night in a row. Their last visit to Indiana was a fast-paced, offense-focused game, so having some extra energy saved shouldn’t hurt Saturday night.