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Slow Start Sends Hornets to Road-Trip-Opening Loss in Philadelphia

The Charlotte Hornets looked sharper at times over the final 36 minutes against one of the NBA’s elite teams, although never fully recovered from a rough start in their 127-112 road loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, Jan. 2.

Terry Rozier bounced back from a cold outing against Memphis on Friday evening to finish with a game-high 35 points on 12-of-18 shooting (7-of-10 from three) and three assists in the loss. Rozier now has a pair of 35-point showings through six games this season; entering the night, the only other NBA player to have accomplished this feat so far had been Trae Young.

Philadelphia outscored the Hornets in the first quarter, 39-24, after shooting 60% and 7-of-11 from three (64%) in the frame. The 15-point advantage stayed steady through halftime and never got lower than double digits across the final two quarters, sending the 76ers to a 12th consecutive head-to-head victory over the visiting Hornets.

“I think we’ve been making strides defensively,” said Head Coach James Borrego. “I think coming into the game, we were seventh in the league defensively. I’ve seen a lot of progress. These guys are a handful for us, so give them a ton of credit. Too many transition points [allowed] and just not enough resistance there at the rim tonight. We got to correct it and the beauty of it is we get another crack at them in two days.”

Gordon Hayward stuffed the statsheet for the Hornets with 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals, while rookie LaMelo Ball did the same, racking up 13 points, four rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks in 31 minutes off the bench. Bismack Biyombo chipped in nine points and nine rebounds and Devonte’ Graham led Charlotte in the assists department with nine dimes.

As for the hometown 76ers, Tobias Harris had a team-high 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Ben Simmons notched his first triple-double of the season with 15 points, 12 rebounds and a game-high 11 assists. Joel Embiid recorded his fourth double-double of the season (19 points and 14 rebounds) and the 76ers also received double-digit scoring performances from Seth Curry (21), Shake Milton (18) and Danny Green (13).

Charlotte shot 41% and 37% from three (13-of-35), while also knocking down 23-of-26 attempts from the free-throw line (89%). While the offense was clicking at times, it couldn’t keep up with a 76ers squad that shot 60%, 46% (16-of-35) and 71% (17-of-24), respectively, from the same three areas. The Hornets also committed just 12 turnovers – 10 coming in the second half – and registered assists on all but four of their 38 field goals.

Borrego added, “I thought our offense was better tonight. Our pace was better, our shot selection was better, the ball movement. I would have liked to see more shots go in, but I can’t fault our shot selection or our pace. The bottom line is you have to make shots in this league and we need to see that ball go through the net.”

These two teams will be back in action again for a rematch on Monday, Jan. 4 starting at 7 PM EST at the Wells Fargo Center. Catch the game on Fox Sports Southeast, the Fox Sports GO app and WFNZ 610 AM or 102.5 FM.