The Charlotte Hornets ended a three-game losing streak with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-101, behind 22 points and six assists from Terry Rozier and a double-double from both Mason Plumlee and Nick Richards.
Plumlee totaled 11 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and Richards logged 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Hornets (5-14). PJ Washington added 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 14 points and four rebounds and Jalen McDaniels scored 11 points.
Shake Milton led the Sixers (9-9) with 22 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. De’Anthony Melton recorded 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Tobias Harris chipped in 19 points and five rebounds and Montrezl Harrell tallied 16 points and seven rebounds.
Early on, the Hornets struggled to get much of anything going offensively. They weren’t shooting well as a team and weren’t able to get into the paint, but they kept the game within reach via solid defense and a couple easy looks in transition. Richards checked in and immediately made an impact in his first quarter minutes with a couple of nice finishes through contact. Washington made the team’s first three in six attempts with about a minute left in the first, and a leaning three from Furkan Korkmaz just prior to the buzzer put the Sixers ahead, 33-21 after one.
The Hornets attacked with more success as the game wore on, bringing the deficit back within single-digits early in the second quarter. Dennis Smith Jr. finished through the foul in transition and Richards put one home to make it a five-point game, 39-34, before the injury bug bit the Hornets again and Smith left the game with another left ankle sprain. Plumlee led the fastbreak and kicked to Rozier, who canned a corner three to make it a one-point game, 54-53, as halftime approached. Oubre’s go-ahead three rimmed out and the Hornets trailed by one at the break.
Charlotte briefly took their first lead of the game in the opening minute of the third quarter before Philadelphia responded with a run to go back in front by a half-dozen. An 8-2 Hornets run cut Philly’s lead to two, 67-65, and whether it had a rallying effect or not, a Milton/Plumlee double-technical seemed to be the tipping point in this game. The Hornets got hot to end the third, going on a 22-10 run over the final six minutes to take control, 79-75 heading into the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia was hard trapping and double-teaming Rozier off ball screen actions in the final frame, trying to force him to give it up and make others create shots, but it wouldn’t work for long as he began to carve his way into open space and find teammates or get a look for himself. Kai Jones, who played well in a couple of short bursts, hit a pull-up elbow jumper to give the Hornets the lead back after losing it briefly, and Théo Maledon added to it with a steal and layup in transition.
Charlotte’s heightened defensive activity led to a few steals and some easier buckets; along with more consistent rim pressure and efficient shot-making, the Hornets offense came alive. They were able to stretch the lead to nine, 94-84, in crunch time before Rozier took the reigns and held the Sixers at bay for the remainder of the night. Washington nearly made a costly mistake on a late inbound, but he redeemed himself with the game-icing dunk moments later. The Hornets ended a three-game slide with a 107-101 victory.
Stat of the Night
- Both centers notched a double-double tonight; Plumlee has seven on the year and Richards has five, including three-straight off the bench, becoming the third Hornet to ever record such a feat. For the first time in years, the Hornets have a consistent, reliable center rotation. The center position is the least of our concerns right now.
- Kai Jones showing flashes of creation while being slotted in as the four is impressive — showing potential while playing out of position and not getting any run in Greensboro is a great sign for the young big.
- Injuries really suck and this is getting seriously frustrating. It sucks watching a player (and oftentimes the same players) get hurt almost every game.