Nicolas Batum made a bold prediction before Monday night ’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers and guaranteed a win for the slumping Charlotte Hornets, a win that the Hornets desperately needed to stop their tumble down the Eastern Conference Standings. Unfortunately Batum’s attempt to pull the Hornets out of their losing streak was thwarted by a Sixer’s team who seems to play with nothing to lose. Dario Saric played 31 minutes off the bench and finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Sixers, as the Hornets lost for the 10th time in 11 games 105-99.
The Hornets stumbled out of the gate shooting 1-of-7 from the field with three turnovers. Philly took advantage with an 8-0 run and led 17-5 midway through the first quarter at the Spectrum Center.
Jeremy Lamb provided a tiny spark off the bench and got the Hornets within five, but another 8-0 sixer run pushed their lead out to 28-17, as they led 31-22 at the end of the first quarter.
Kemba Walker showed some signs of heating up in the second quarter with some timely points and a crucial steal that led to a fast break bucket from Marvin Williams to tie the game at 45. The Hornets finished the half with 46 percent shooting from the field and trailed 48-47 at the half. Kemba would finish with over 29 points and hit over the 20-point mark for the first time in eight games.
Looking to hold true to his words, Batum led the scoring off in the second half with a three to put the Hornets up 50-48. The Hornets would hope to extend their lead, as they showed some signs of rekindling the team from earlier in the year, but later in the third quarter the Sixers would put together yet another run; this time a 10-0 burst and eventually balloon it to a 20-5 outbreak and lead 81-68. Miles Plumlee would leave the game in the third quarter with a calf strain; which added to another missing big man down low, along with Cody Zeller . The Hornets were eventually out rebounded an astonishing 51 to 33 by the Sixers and outscored in the paint by 24 points.
The Hornets sat in an all to familiar position heading into the fourth quarter, trailing. The Sixers would keep the lead around ten for most of the fourth quarter and keep the Hornets in a bind, as a few boo birds cascaded down from the rafters in the uptown arena of Charlotte, N.C. The Hornets would make one final push with under three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but two huge misses from behind the arc by a wide open Marco Belinelli and an overeager Nic Batum; which could have cut the game to two,sunk the Hornets once again.
The Hornets end their four game home stand, losing three out of four and head to Toronto for their final game before the all-star break at 21-34. The Hornets will not host another home game until March 6th and will continue a long road trip after the break, which includes a west coast swing that will be crucial to the season. Here’s hoping the break provides a rested bunch who can reel off a winning streak to save a fading season.