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Hornets continue to decline, lose to 76ers, 102-93

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The Hornets couldn’t get anything to fall and suddenly find themselves sitting in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference — and they’re trending downwards.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets couldn’t find the bottom of the net Friday night and lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in startling fashion, 102-93.

The Hornets whittled the deficit down into a tie early in the third quarter but never led at any point, giving them their fourth straight loss and sixth loss in their last seven games.

Nicolas Batum led the Hornets in scoring with 19 points in his return from a two-game absence. No other Hornet shot better than 50 percent from the field, with Kemba Walker and Frank Kaminsky in particular shooting 7-of-23 and 2-of-10, respectively.

In fact, the only reason the Hornets didn’t lose by 20 was because they converted on 25 of their 26 free throw attempts. I mean, they turned the ball over 19 times.

Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 24 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and three blocks in just 27 minutes. The Hornets had no answer for him on either end of the floor — dude is the real deal.

No matter what statistic you look at, the Hornets got outworked tonight. By the Sixers.

It’s become increasingly clear over the past month or so that something’s not right with the Hornets. They’re 6-11 since Dec. 10 — 14-9 before then — and only Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Kemba, and Batum have averaged a positive net rating over that stretch.

The 76ers literally have the worst offense in the league this season at just 98.5 points per possession, and the Hornets allowed them to score 102. No rotation player has a defensive rating better than 104 since Dec. 10.

So things are...not great.

It’s not injuries. Something’s just not clicking.

Maybe Rich Cho will double down on this squad and they’ll get through this slump, but he’d be foolish not to explore the trade market with an open mind. Particularly if he knows what the root of the problem is.

The Hornets next play on Monday, against the Boston Celtics.