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Hornets Start Better, Then Fade In 2nd Half Against Sixers

Offense Gets Clicking, Philly Dominates Glass, Both Curry and Martin Suffer Ankle Injuries

Playing with more purpose and balance right from the get-go gave the Charlotte Hornets a chance on Friday night in Philadelphia. A so-so second-half offense and too many late misses on the defensive glass wiped away their hopes in a 121-114 road loss to the 76ers. 

The biggest silver lining was the scoring for Charlotte, which had failed to crack 100 points in each of its past four games for the first time since 2015. Playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road against a Philadelphia team that had been off since Tuesday probably also factored into the loss, as did losing both Seth Curry and Cody Martin to ankle injuries.

A major point of emphasis going into this game for the Hornets was getting off to a better start. Down five after the opening frame, their offense soon found another gear, scoring 36 second-quarter points – 18 in the paint – on 65% shooting to take their own five-point lead into halftime. The pendulum swung right back the other way in the second half though, as Philadelphia pushed its advantage to double figures by the midway point of the fourth.

An 11-2 run got Charlotte to within two with two minutes remaining. Over the 76ers’ next two possessions, they wrangled three offensive boards leading to five back-breaking second-chance points, helping bump their cushion to five with about 31 seconds left on the clock. The Hornets didn’t score again, and the hosts hit another pair of free throws to ice the home victory.

Miles Bridges recorded a team-high 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting, five 3-pointers and 11 rebounds for his 15th seasonal double-double and fifth in the past sixth outings in the loss. Nick Richards scored 19 points on a near perfect 8-of-9 clip, while three reserves – Grant Williams, Dāvis Bertāns and Vasilije Micić – all had at least 13 points. The late allocated extra scoring opportunities were a microcosm of the entire game for Charlotte. Philadelphia won the glass, 48-32, and scored 28 second chance points off 15 offensive boards.

“I thought our guys played well,” said Hornets Head Coach Steve Clifford afterwards. “We just didn’t rebound the ball. They had 28 second-chance points, which was the game. We got three stops down one possession and didn’t get the rebound. I thought we did a lot of good things. We just didn’t finish possessions. I thought we played in the halfcourt good both ways. I thought our ball movement and offensive energy was a lot, lot better.” 

Tyrese Maxey totaled an inefficient game-high 33 points on 11-of-29 shooting – 5-of-10 from 3-point range – and five assists, good for his eighth consecutive 20-point game. Tobias Harris tallied 31 points and 12 rebounds for his first 30-point showing since Jan. 12. Making his first start for his hometown team, Kyle Lowry double-doubled, as well, with 15 points and 10 assists. Philadelphia has now won all but two of the past 24 regular season games against Charlotte.

The Hornets will finish their two-game road trip against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, March 3 beginning at 6 PM ET. Catch all the action on Bally Sports Southeast and WFNZ 92.7 FM.