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The Hornets lose to the 76ers in Philly, 116-104

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Cody Zeller shines, and they made a game out of it down the stretch.

Charlotte Hornets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

They won three straight, now they’ve lost three straight. On the second night of a back-to-back, Cody Zeller scored a season-high 24 points on 10-13 FG while grabbing seven rebounds, and Devonte’ Graham had a 19-point 10-assist double-double in the Hornets’ 116-104 loss to the Sixers.

The Hornets’ first bucket of the game came off of a free-throw line pull-up from Terry Rozier. The Sixers made a point to get the ball inside early, with Joel Embiid, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris all scoring early. Embiid got Cody into foul trouble at the 7:59 mark, and he sat for the remainder of the first quarter. Bismack Biyombo filled in admirably, and PJ Washington (who hit his first career mid-range jumper) did alright against Harris and Horford, but the Hornets big man depth is just no match for Philly’s. On the bright side, Devonte’ Graham has established himself as a premier lob-thrower. He had three in the first quarter, which ended with the Sixers up 33-24.

The second quarter started with what we’ve become used to seeing from this team over the past few games. Lazy turnovers, followed by lazier transition defense, leading to a lot of points in the paint. The Hornets got into a bit of foul trouble when Rozier picked up his third with eight minutes remaining in the half, while Biz and Cody had two a piece.

For as sloppy as the Hornets offense can be, the Sixers were just as bad in the second. The Hornets went on a 22-6 run that started about midway through the quarter and ended with them taking a 58-53 lead into the break. Cody posted 17 points (2-3 3PT) and five rebounds in 13 minutes. Him and Devonte’ were really the only sources of offense outside of some timely shots from PJ and Malik Monk.

Charlotte showed their youth and inexperience as they opened the second half with a quartet of ill-advised shots, giving Philly the opportunity to go ahead 60-58 in less than three minutes. Rozier ended the Sixers’ run with a nice runner with Raul Neto on his back for the Hornets’ first second-half bucket. The Sixers put together a decent stretch in the middle of the quarter that saw them stretch their lead as far as 81-70, but Monk went on a personal nine-point run that cut the lead to just six. The teams went back-and-forth in the final few minutes and the Hornets went into the final frame down 88-81.

I know I wrote a Cody Martin Appreciation Paragraph in the preview for this game, but here’s another short one. He started off the fourth with two great individual defensive efforts on Mike Scott. He is the Charlotte Marcus Smart, in that he can easily guard players much larger than him in the paint. He still can't score unless it’s an open layup (he did hit his first NBA three), but his intensity sticks out on a youthful, defensively-challenged team.

It took over two minutes for Philly to get a bucket in the fourth, and the Hornets didn’t score until the 8:13 mark. For once, the Hornets’ turnover struggles didn’t stand out, simply because the Sixers refused to hold on to the ball. After mustering just three points in the first four and a half minutes, the Hornets found themselves down 99-84. It was garbage time for most of the fourth, and despite the lightning-quick 11-1 run the Hornets put together in the last few minutes, they couldn’t pull off the comeback and lost 114-106.

Monk had a nice game off the bench with 15 points and eight rebounds. Apart from his contribution to the late-game run that cut the deficit to five, Terry Rozier was a virtual non-factor in this game. I love Terry, but he’s got to play a complete game some time soon, or else James Borrego is going to be forced to put Devonte’ in the starting lineup in his place.

Here’s this wonderful stat for a pick-me-up to end the night (thanks @Cosmis):