The Sixers picked up their 7th consecutive win Friday night with a 121-82 blowout of the Charlotte Hornets. The 39-point margin of victory was the team’s largest of the season. The win moved the Sixers to within a half-game of the Boston Celtics for 2nd place in the East, and to within 2.5 games of the Milwaukee Bucks for 1st.
Joel Embiid dominated once again, putting up another ridiculous stat line: 38 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks, in just 29 minutes. Despite shooting 4/15, James Harden made his mark by collecting his 74th career triple-double, posting 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Tobias Harris also contributed a solid 18 points.
The Sixers were without former Hornet, Jalen McDaniels, for the 2nd straight game, as he is still suffering from a right hip contusion. Charlotte was without LaMelo Ball (right ankle), Cody Martin (left knee), and Mark Williams (right thumb).
Joel Embiid is now leading the NBA.com MVP ladder, and he proved once again why that is well deserved (and long overdue). Embiid is now just the 2nd player in NBA history to amass 5 consecutive 30+ point 3+ block games since blocks first started being tracked in 1973-74. The only other: Shaq.
Going up against a team that is a part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, I thought this could be one of those nights where Joel takes it easy. Boy was I wrong. At halftime, he already had 24 points, 2 coming on an amazing over-the-head no-look and one play in the first quarter. This was the 4th straight game Joel has scored over 20 points in the first half, the longest streak of his career.
Embiid only got better in the 3rd. He scored 14 more points in the quarter and helped the team put the game away early. As a part of a great defensive showing, Embiid viscously denied Kai Jones when he foolishly attempted to put the odds-on MVP favorite on a poster (why do players still try that?).
With the Sixers enjoying a comfortable, 92-67, lead, the big man sat out the entire 4th quarter for the 3rd time in 5 games. The big 2nd half leads the Sixers have been enjoying recently have been extremely beneficial, since they allow the starters to get extra rest late in games, especially considering the crowded schedule the Sixers find themselves in down the stretch of the regular season.
Harden Makes History
As a part of his Eastern Conference-leading 5th triple-double of the season, James Harden passed Bob Cousy for 20th on the NBA’s all-time assist leaderboard. Harden now has 6,960 career assists.
It was an off-shooting night for The Beard, as he shot just 4/15 from the floor, and 0/6 from deep. However, with the offense firing on all cylinders once again, Harden’s triple-double was plenty.
Tobias Harris made up for Harden’s cold night from the field. He dropped 18 points on 7/11 shooting in under 23 minutes of play. It was nice to see Tobi have a good offensive game. He has struggled on that end of the floor recently, so much so that some fans have expressed the idea of having him come off the bench. Hopefully, tonight can reverse Harris’ fortunes because for the Sixers to make a deep playoff run, Tobias might have to be an X-factor.
Charlotte… What Was That?
The Charlotte Hornets played one of the worst games of basketball I have ever seen in this game.
They shot a horrific 33.7% from the field in this one and had absolutely no offensive game whatsoever. It seemed that their game plan was to just pass the ball around the perimeter and take a contested three every time. They shot 5/35 (14.3%) from beyond the arc, so that game plan did not work.
While the Hornets are, no doubt, in the midst of a rebuild, there is never really an excuse when an NBA team scores just 82 points in an entire game, as well as just 28 points in the 2nd half. Heck, the Sixers just scored 80 points in a half earlier this month.
Charlotte was outrebounded by a whopping 62-35 margin in this one. They had no interior presence at all, allowing the Sixers to score more than half of their points (64) in the paint.
The Sixers are now 9-0 when holding opponents to under 40% shooting from the field, and are now 13-1 when holding their opponents to under 100 points.
The Sixers will look to extend their win streak to 8 games on Saturday, when they face the Indiana Pacers, a team they have already beaten once during the streak, at 7:00p.