Sixers silence the noise in Charlotte

Sixers silence the noise in Charlotte


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Sixers bounced back from their letdown loss on Sunday with a 128-114 victory Tuesday over the Hornets at Spectrum Center. 

After emphasizing the importance of “team” basketball, six players scored in double figures for the Sixers. Robert Covington led the team with 22 points, followed by Dario Saric (19), Joel Embiid (18), Ben Simmons (16), JJ Redick (14), Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova (11 each). 

The Sixers also cut back significantly on their turnovers, committing only 14 compared to 26 against the Bucks in their previous game. 

The Sixers improved to 35-28, sixth place in the East. They remain one game back of fifth after the Wizards notched an OT win over the Heat.

• Luckily there are still two meetings left between the Sixers and Hornets this season for more Embiid vs. Dwight Howard. Late in the game, Embiid threw down a backboard-shaking slam. Howard answered with a one-handed alley-oop dunk. Embiid posted 18 points (10 through three quarters), five rebounds and four assists. Howard finished with 30 points and six boards. 

• Simmons recorded his 25th double-double of the season by adding a game-high 13 dimes to his 16 points. He shot an efficient 8 for 9 from the field. 

• Kemba Walker was ice cold for most of the night. The All-Star guard shot 1 for 9 from the field and 0 for 5 from three. He scored five points, well below his 23.2 points this season. Walker did dish seven assists. 

• The game was chippier at points than the final score reflected. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was issued two techs and ejected with 3:52 to play in the first half. Howard was called for a tech less than two minutes later. In the third, Embiid was T’ed up. 

• Hall of Famer Allen Iverson took in the game from the row behind the Sixers’ bench. 

• Sixers fans showed up once again on the road. When Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was shown on the Jumbotron, Sixers fans responded with an “E-A-G-L-E-S” chant. Embiid and Fultz signed autographs for them before the game.

• Justin Anderson played for the first time since suffering a right ankle sprain Feb. 12. Anderson checked in for the final 1:30 of the lopsided game. Richaun Holmes and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot also got in late minutes. 

• The Sixers scored at least 70 first-half points in back-to-back games (71 against the Hornets). They had not done so since November of 1992. That’s well before most of the current team was born. 

• Up next: The Sixers will return to Miami on Thursday a week after losing at the buzzer at the hands of Dwyane Wade.  

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

These players could come 'out of left field' for Sixers

Brett Brown’s witnessed many playoff battles during his days as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

That’s when the stars shine brightest in an attempt to help their team hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. It’s also when role players get an opportunity to change the course of a series and leave an imprint that lasts a lifetime.

Think Kenny Smith’s seven three-pointers in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals, Steve Kerr’s series-sealing jumper in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals and Robert Horry in, well, too many games to count.

“Every one of my years with San Antonio, 12 of them, somebody came out of left field in one of the games for six minutes, maybe more, and had a significant impact on a win,” Brown said last week.

Sure, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are going to do the heavy lifting. But the real question is who else will make a significant contribution during those crucial postseason moments?

Robert Covington is certainly not planning to shy away from the big stage.

After three months of sliding production, the swingman has regained his shooting form at just the right time as the Sixers appear headed for their first postseason berth since 2011-12. Covington is shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from three-point range with an offensive rating of 128 in March.

“My teammates have been pretty much finding me the same shots, but I just changed up a little bit of my workout, switched it up,” Covington said after scoring 18 points (6 for 12 shooting) in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets on Monday. “That’s what allowed me to get where I’m at now. My teammates have been finding me open spots. We’ve been moving the ball really well.

“That’s just doing the right things and waiting on that moment.”

Marco Belinelli knows all about seizing that moment. He’s played — and played very well at times — over the course of 48 career playoff games.

The Sixers got a taste against the Hornets of just how much of a boost Belinelli can give a team when he’s on target. The 10-year veteran scored 21 points off the bench and contributed five of the Sixers’ 18 threes as he sharpens his game for the major challenge on the horizon.

“It’s huge,” Simmons said of finding shooters such as Belinelli and Covington in addition to JJ Redick in close games. “It’s just the way we’ve been playing all year.”

With Justin Anderson now back in the rotation and contributing, it could be the performance of secondary guys that keep the Sixers playing longer than anyone expected before the season started.

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double

Ben Simmons shrugs off mental fatigue with another triple-double


Around 6 p.m., Ben Simmons spoke about mental fatigue and the frustrations it can cause. 

An hour later, he hit the court and posted an 11-point, 12-rebound, 15-assist triple-double … with zero turnovers.

“I wish he was more mentally fatigued in the future,” Brett Brown said with a laugh. 

The 21-year-old rookie may be feeling the weight of his first NBA season, but he certainly didn’t show it Monday in the Sixers’ 108-94 win over the Hornets (see observations)

Simmons recorded his third triple-double in the last four games. He exhibited disciplined court vision by finding his teammates with a high level of ease and chemistry that’s been developing over the season (see highlights).

“I was trusting them to knock down shots,” Simmons simply put it. “They make it easy for me.”

Simmons became the first rookie in the NBA to record a triple-double with 15 assists and no turnovers. Only David Robinson and Andre Iguodala had reached a triple-double without an error as rookies. 

Simmons considers his assists and turnovers to be the most meaningful stats of the triple-double, noting his turnovers usually are caused by mental errors. 

"That’s amazing," Joel Embiid said. "To be able to make the right reads and not turn the ball over, there’s a few guys in the league that can do that ... that just shows you that he can be a great point guard."

The 6-foot-10 point guard is averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game over 34 minutes. With each game that passes, Simmons continues to be linked with the feats of Hall of Famers. From joining in the same company as Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson to moving ahead of Allen Iverson for most 10-assist games by a Sixers rookie, his performances are often tied back to historical markers. 

“I think people get caught up in how many points I score every game,” Simmons said. “It’s not about that. It’s a matter of points that we’re getting as a team and how many stops we get … 

"People are always going to say I need to do certain things but I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m really good at.”