76ers

Instant Replay: Sixers 102, Hornets 93

Instant Replay: Sixers 102, Hornets 93

BOX SCORE

The Sixers shut down a high-scoring guard, a position in which they’ve struggled to defend, en route to their fifth win in six games on Friday night. 

Kemba Walker shot 7 of 23 from the field and 2 for 9 from three (17 points), as the Sixers beat the Hornets, 102-93, for their third straight victory. The Sixers hadn't won three in a row since they rattled off four straight wins during the 2013-14 season. The Sixers improved to 12-25 while the Hornets evened out at 20-20.

The Sixers’ defense caused problems for Walker from the start, as he shot 2 for 13 in the first half. He had been averaging 23.1 points (sixth among all point guards) on a career-high 46.8 percent from the field. 

In their last five games, of which they won four, the Sixers had allowed 22 points to Emmanuel Mudiay, 28 points to Zach LaVine, a combined 50 to Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas, and 25 to Derrick Rose. 

Inside the box score
• Joel Embiid reached 20 points for his eighth straight game, dating back to Dec. 23 against the Suns. He scored 24 points (6 for 12 from the field, 0 for 5 from three, 12 for 14 from the line) with eight rebounds, three blocks, two steals and five turnovers in 28 minutes against the Hornets.

• Dario Saric was the Sixers’ second-leading scorer with 15 points, including 4 for 6 from three, and grabbed six rebounds.

• Nerlens Noel finished with four blocks in 20 minutes.

• Nicolas Batum led the Hornets with 19 points. 

• Cody Zeller (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12 points, 12 rebounds) recorded double-doubles. 

• The Sixers forced the Hornets into a season-high 19 turnovers. Charlotte entered the game averaging 11.9 turnovers per game, the lowest mark in the league.

• The Sixers limited the Hornets to 11 assists, the fewest by an opponent this season. The Hornets entered the game averaging 23.5, tied for seventh in the league. 

Embiid wants to hear it
When fans chanted “trust the process” with Embiid at the line, Embiid encouraged them to get louder in between shots. He hit 12 of 14 (85.7 percent) free throws. 

Okafor sits again
Jahlil Okafor was a DNP for his fourth straight game. He will play on Saturday against the Wizards when Embiid rests on the second night of a back-to-back.

“His day is going to be tomorrow,” head coach Brett Brown said. 

In the D-League …
During this game, Richaun Holmes was taking on former Sixer Christian Wood in the Delaware 87ers’ contest against the Greensboro Swarm in North Carolina. Holmes was assigned to the Sevens on Friday morning. 

Part of the team
Ten-day contract player Chasson Randle showed his support for his new teammates by standing and applauding during the game. Randle signed with the Sixers on Tuesday and has not played. 

Up next
The Sixers will travel to Washington, D.C., to play the Wizards on Saturday. On Monday, they will face the Bucks in Milwaukee for an afternoon game. 

Best of NBA: Rockets rally past Pelicans in high-scoring affair

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USA Today Images

Best of NBA: Rockets rally past Pelicans in high-scoring affair

HOUSTON -- Clint Capela had a career-high 28 points and James Harden scored 12 straight points for Houston in the fourth quarter as the Rockets rallied for a 130-123 victory to extend their winning streak to 10 games on Monday night.

The game was tied with about three minutes remaining after Harden made two free throws. Those were the first of seven straight points by Harden that put Houston's up 124-119 with 1:30 left.

Jrue Holiday made a basket after that, but Harden hit a 3-pointer seconds later to push the lead to 127-121. Harden stole the ball from E'Twaun Moore after a timeout by New Orleans. He was fouled and made both free throws to make it 129-121 with 34 seconds left.

After scoring 48 points in Houston's last game, Harden finished with 26 on Monday, but he tied a career-high with 17 assists, finding the 6-foot-10 Capela under the basket again and again.

Holiday had a season-high 37 points for the Pelicans. Moore had a career-high 36 points and made a career-most six 3-pointers on a night New Orleans set a franchise record with 18 3-pointers (see full recap).

Mirotic, Portis help Bulls blow out Celtics
CHICAGO -- Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, Bobby Portis added a career-high 23 and the Chicago Bulls blew out Boston 108-85 on Monday night with Celtics star Kyrie Irving sidelined because of a bruised left quadriceps.

Owners of the NBA's worst record, the Bulls built an 18-point lead in the second quarter against the Eastern Conference leaders. And when Boston cut it to 12 in the fourth, the Bulls simply pulled away for their third straight win.

Mirotic made his first start of the season with leading scorer Lauri Markkanen sidelined because of back spasms. The 6-foot-10 forward hit 9 of 14 shots and grabbed eight rebounds in his third appearance.

Portis shot 10 of 15 and nailed all three 3-pointers.

Before Monday night, Mirotic and Portis had only made headlines together this season for the wrong reasons. Mirotic missed the first 23 games with facial fractures he suffered in a fight at practice with Portis.

Al Horford scored 15 for Boston. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier added 13 points apiece in the Celtics' most lopsided loss of the season (see full recap).

Howard, struggling Hornets roll past Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dwight Howard scored 23 points to help the Charlotte Hornets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-103 on Monday night.

Kemba Walker had 19 points for the Hornets, who had lost seven of eight. Marvin Williams scored 18, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 17 points.

It was Charlotte's second road win of the season in 12 tries.

Russell Westbrook had 30 points and seven assists and Paul George scored 20 points for the Thunder after missing the previous two games with a right calf contusion.

Charlotte shot 53 percent from the field against one of the league's best defensive teams. The Bobcats made 13 of 25 3-point attempts (see full recap).

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

'Playing like a high school team' plaguing Sixers during losing streak

NEW ORLEANS — The Sixers have hit a four-game skid and there is not a clearly defined way out of it thanks to a laundry list of injuries.

“I think it’s painfully obvious,” Brett Brown said of what needs to be done. “Let’s get our better players back in a uniform.”

The Sixers have to play their best with their pieces available down two starters (Joel Embiid, Robert Covington) and a key bench player (T.J. McConnell).

There are adjustments that can be made to prevent a losing streak from spiraling the Sixers down in the standings.

“We need to be just smarter,” Dario Saric said. “I know we are a young team. I know are playing without Joel, without our very important players … we need to find a way. We need to be more calm down, don’t be nervous, especially on defense.” 

Saric pointed to the Sixers’ late-game defense in their 131-124 loss to the Pelicans (see observations). They were tied with eight minutes to play before the Pelicans hit threes on their next four straight possessions. Jrue Holiday drained four treys himself during a five-minute stretch to push the lead to 11. The Sixers were outscored 44-29 in the fourth quarter.

“In that situation, to me, we are playing like a high school team,” Saric said. “That cannot happen. We need to be smarter at that point. I hope we will grow up and we will be mentally ready for that last five, six, seven minutes.”

The Sixers also were in the position to come back Saturday in Cleveland. They trailed the Cavaliers, 99-98, with 1:39 to play and did not score after that point.

It was during that final stretch when Covington landed out of bounds and suffered a lower back contusion. A day later, Embiid was a late scratch because of lower back tightness (see story). McConnell has missed five of the last six games with a left shoulder injury.

“We’ve got to be consistent with making the right plays every time,” Ben Simmons said. “It’s hard to make mistakes without those guys there. When you make mistakes and you don’t have Jo or Cov and guys like that to make up for that, it’s tough. But we’ve got to just come together as a team and get through it.” 

The Sixers don't have it easy their next two games. They face the Timberwolves (16-11) Tuesday in Minnesota when Embiid said he expects to play but has not been cleared. Covington is doubtful, while McConnell's status is to be determined. The Sixers return home Friday from a three-game road trip to host the Thunder (12-13).