It took about a minute and a half, but Gordon Hayward found Rozier on a nice kick-out for a three to open the Hornets’ scoring. Philadelphia shot 6-7 FG to start the game and got out to an 18-8 lead by the first timeout. LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges came in and the offense picked up a bit, but there was still a lid on the basket during the opening frame. After one quarter, the Sixers led 39-24. The Hornets shot 7-25 FG compared to Philly’s 15-25 FG, but on the bright side they only turned the ball over once.
Devonte’ Graham and PJ Washington went to their two-man game to open the second quarter, and it led to Washington scoring seven points in just over two minutes:
Hornets get an empty-side pick-and-roll connection between Devonte Graham and PJ Washington off one of their go-so SLOB plays — Graham back screens for inbounds passer, then comes off pindown from PJ who rolls down. Beautiful job from DG to create space, thread the pocket pass pic.twitter.com/NzGydFf5VP— Brian Geisinger (@bgeis_bird) January 3, 2021
With 8:47 to go in the half, the Hornets trailed 47-33. Washington and Rozier led the way with nine points each and were the only starters playing well in the first half on offense, though Bismack Biyombo did really well in dribble-handoff actions with Ball, collecting three assists by halftime and finishing the game with five.
In the wise words of Gordon Hayward, the Hornets were “smoking bunnies,” shooting only 52.6 percent (10-19 FG) in the restricted area in the first half. It was 59-44 Sixers with 4:48 left, with the Hornets being carried by Rozier getting to his spots and knocking down shots.
LaMelo gifted us a wild hit-ahead pass off of a rebound that led to a Miles Bridges dunk:
At the half, the Hornets were down 73-58. Rozier’s 18 points on 6-10 FG were a game-high, and Ball added 11 points, three assists and two rebounds, steals and blocks in 15 minutes.
Rozier stayed hot to open the third, hitting a three and a floater for the Hornets’ first two baskets. The Hornets were playing fairly well, but they weren’t closing out on Philly’s shooters quite hard enough all night. With 6:06 left in the third it was 92-77 Sixers, and a quick run from the Hornets cut it to 94-83 with 4:40 to go. The Sixers were still shooting over 60 percent from the field in the third quarter; it’s just not possible to come back in a game when your opponent is knocking down shots like that.
Ball was extremely active on defense this quarter, recording a pair of steals late in the quarter and coming with some well-timed double-teams. After Ball hustled for a ridicuous buzzer-beating floater, the Hornets were down 104-90 going into the fourth. Rozier had 29 points.
To open the fourth, Caleb Martin attacked the rim and finished an acrobatic layup, which he’s been pretty good at lately—he was also the lone Martin twin in the rotation tonight. Jalen McDaniels bodied up Dwight Howard in the post and hustled down the floor for a layup that cut the deficit to 110-100 with 8:52 remaining, but that was as close as Charlotte would get.
McDaniels had himself an eventful fourth; soon after he owned Howard, he frustrated Embiid to the point where Embiid twice attempted to elbow McDaniels in the face. In the business, that is what they call “bullshit,” but I’m not in the business so I wouldn’t know. It was two quick buckets from Ben Simmons that made it 117-103 Sixers with 5:09 and all but put the game out of reach. The Sixers won with a final score of 127-112.
The Hornets had another awful first quarter—but unlike last night, they turned it around and gave a full 48 minutes of effort. Sometimes the other team just makes a lot of shots, and that’s what Philly did tonight shooting 59.5 percent from the floor. Rozier’s 35 points led all scorers, with Hayward putting up 18 points, six rebounds and six assists and Ball adding 13 points, 5 assists, four rebounds, four steals and two blocks in 31 minutes. The Hornets shot just 48.1 percent in the restricted area, though they forced 21 turnovers.
As usual, quick-hitters to end the night; Terry’s “catch the ball and shoot or attack a closeout and do no playmaking” role fits him well; LaMelo is an instinctual rebounder, when he gets stronger he could average 8-10 boards per night; Devonte’ still playmaking and defending well, but the shot will never come around if he doesn’t stop hesitating on open looks; Biz has done surprisingly well as a passer this year, credit LaMelo and Devonte’; No Cody Martin tonight, Caleb is the better of the two at the moment