Hornets Finally Defeat 76ers for 4th Straight Win

Hayward’s 30 PTS, Bridges’ Late Scoring, Charlotte’s Defense Help Seal Long-Awaited Victory
by Sam Perley

More Coverage: Game Gallery | James Borrego Postgame | Hayward & Bridges Postgame

It’s been over five years since the Charlotte Hornets beat the Philadelphia 76ers, good for a string of 16 consecutive losses, many of which recently have been painfully agonizing. On Wednesday night in the City of Brotherly Love, the streak finally came to an end, thanks to a defense-driven 109-98 triumph.

Gordon Hayward’s 30 points – his third 30-point game of the season – set the tone in this one, with 22 of his points coming in the opening half on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting. Terry Rozier (22) and Miles Bridges (21) also recorded 20-point games, with the latter tallying nine key points in the fourth quarter.

Charlotte used a 24-4 run bridging the middle two frames to take a 70-50 lead early in the second half, but a tough-as-nails Philadelphia squad continued chipping away. With the Hornets still ahead 99-90 at the 2:56 mark of the fourth, Bridges notched a corner 3-pointer, an alley-oop dunk and a finger-roll layup over Charlotte’s next three offensive possessions to close out the 76ers and end their seven-game winning streak.

“It feels good in the moment. I think it feels big right now,” said Coach Borrego afterwards. “We’ve been battling with these guys for a number of years. The last couple years, it feels like every shot at the end of the game has gone their direction, they’ve made the right plays, big plays. I’m just proud of our guys overall. They battled tonight. It was a great example of resiliency, toughness and mental toughness.”

The Hornets shot just 10-of-34 from 3-point range (29%), went 36-of-55 on 2-pointers (65%) and won the rebounding battle by nine (42-33). Joel Embiid (31 points) extended his career-long streak with an eighth consecutive 30-point game, helping the 76ers finish with an additional 20 free-throw attempts (29-9).

Added Borrego, “We won the board, won the paint. I thought we were aggressive on both sides of the ball. As I told the group, they’re choosing this right now. This is a choice. They’re choosing to play with this effort, to have this mentality, play with this aggression and have this preparation before the game. They deserve credit. They’re locked in right now.”

Each game from the opener all the way to the season finale counts the same in the win-loss column. Every once and awhile though, a victory comes around that just tastes a little sweeter and such was the case in this one. But even after holding their opponent to under 100 points in back-to-back games for the first time this year, the Hornets know there’s still much bigger fish to fry.
Stated Bridges, “We have to continue to get better. We haven’t done anything yet. Our main goal is just to get better every game and make the playoffs. These are three good wins [against Milwaukee twice and Philadelphia], but we still haven’t done anything yet. We have to keep going.”

The Hornets will be back at home on Friday, Jan. 14 to take on the Orlando Magic beginning at 7 PM ET.

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