Sixers eventually swat away pesky bugs

Sixers eventually swat away pesky bugs


The Sixers are quickly learning that challenges come in all variations during an NBA playoff chase.

One night after knocking off the reigning Eastern Conference champs, the Sixers returned home for a 110-99 comeback over the pesky Charlotte Hornets.

The Sixers outscored the Hornets 36-19 in the fourth quarter to secure the win. The victory helped the Sixers improve to 34-27 overall and run their win streak at the Wells Fargo Center to 13 in a row.

The loss dropped the Hornets to 28-35.

• Joel Embiid looked every bit like a player taking part in just his third career back-to-back set in the early going. He lumbered up and down the court and settled for one jump shot after another. That all changed after halftime as Embiid took over. He finished the night with 23 points (8 of 19 shooting from the field, 1 of 4 from three), 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

• Embiid got plenty of help with four other Sixers scoring in double figures — Ersan Ilyasova (18 points, four rebounds, three assists), JJ Redick (18 points, two rebounds, two assists), Robert Covington (16 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals) and Ben Simmons (15 points, eight rebounds, six assists).

• The Sixers kept their miscues in check again on Friday. After committing just 10 turnovers against the Cavaliers, the Sixers followed it up with only 12 against the Hornets.

• Kemba Walker never gets mentioned in the discussion of players that you would pay money to see, but he’s box office. The guard from the Bronx has that New York City bounce to his game and is lightning quick. He sliced up the Sixers’ defense early and often on his way to 31 points on 11 for 21 shooting.

• In his first home game as a Sixer since last Feb. 11, Ilyasova had his fingerprints all over the victory. He scored his 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting from the field and 2 of 4 from long range. Plus, he attempted to take several charges with his lone one coming during a clutch moment in the final minutes.

• Embiid made a mockery of his counterpart on the other side in Dwight Howard. The 13-year veteran finished with six points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. More importantly, he committed five fouls as he fell for just about every Embiid rip-through shooting motion.

• For a second straight night in a Sixers game, things got testy toward the end. This time, Hornets head coach Steve Clifford was riding the officials in the final seconds before he received a technical foul and was ejected.

• Up next: The Sixers have a day off before a road matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday (8 p.m./NBCSP) that is crucial to the Eastern Conference standings.

Kevin Knox, Zhaire Smith to have 2nd workout for Sixers

Kevin Knox, Zhaire Smith to have 2nd workout for Sixers

The Sixers are taking another look at two prospects two days before the NBA draft, in which they hold pick No. 10.

Kentucky forward Kevin Knox will be back at the training complex again Tuesday for an individual workout. Last week, he participated in a group setting.

Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith also will return for a second group workout.

Both stood out their first time in Camden, New Jersey.

“He walked into the gym, it’s not hard to see the intrigue with his size and mobility, his frame,” senior director of basketball operations Vince Rozman said of the 6-foot-9 Knox last week. “He’s 18, so there’s a lot to develop from.”

Knox, who averaged 15.6 points (34.1 percent from three), 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists as a freshman, was confident following his first performance for the Sixers.

“They’re really interested in me,” Knox said. “They love my game, they love the way I can shoot the ball. That’s something they really like to do is shoot a lot of threes. My versatility, being able to take guys off the dribble is something that would complement really well with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.”

The 6-foot-5 Smith posted 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists his freshman season. He was focused on demonstrating shooting, decision-making and playmaking during his first workout.

“He’s got great length,” vice president of player personnel Marc Eversley said last week. “He’s a terrific, terrific athlete. He didn’t shoot the ball as well throughout the year, but he came in here today and shot it pretty well.”

The Sixers additionally hold picks No. 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60. Tuesday’s group workout also will include La Salle guard-forward B.J. Johnson, USC guard De’Anthony Melton, Fairfield guard Tyler Nelson, Kansas guard Malik Newman and Wichita State guard Landry Shamet.

More on Sixers, NBA draft

• Knox thinks he would fit with Sixers

• NBA draft profile: Kentucky's Knox

NBA draft profile: Texas Tech's Smith

NBA draft profile: UCLA PG Aaron Holiday

USA Today Images

NBA draft profile: UCLA PG Aaron Holiday

Aaron Holiday

Position: Guard

Height: 6-0

Weight: 187

School: UCLA

Sixers fans should recognize the name. Aaron Holiday is the brother of former Sixers first-round pick Jrue Holiday and Bulls wing Justin Holiday. Aaron is the youngest — and smallest — of the three. 

A three-year player at UCLA, Holiday developed into one of the most prodigious scorers and shooters in Bruins history. He was the first UCLA player to lead the Pac 12 in scoring (20.3 points per game) since some guy named Reggie Miller. For his efforts, he was named to the All-Pac 12 first team.

For his college career, Holiday averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per contest in 101 games (65 starts). He also hit 180 treys, shooting 42 percent from three.

Holiday’s most obvious and translatable NBA attribute is his jump shot. He shot over 40 percent in all three of his seasons at UCLA and is capable off the dribble, off screens and in catch-and-shoot opportunities. He also has NBA range and is not afraid to pull up from any spot on the floor.

For his size, he’s a good, creative finisher and features a pretty nice floater. He understands how to attack defenses, especially in the pick and roll. He’s excellent at changing his pace and lulling defenders to sleep. He’s a good and willing passer. Defensively he has excellent instincts. He’s aggressive and does well at getting his hands in passing lanes.

Size is a huge issue for Holiday. The other big issue is, he’s just an OK athlete that lacks quickness and explosion while driving to the basket. Defense is always going to be an issue as he’ll struggle to guard some of the bigger and more explosive point guards in the league. He also struggled with turnovers.

NBA comparison
Aaron Brooks, most recently of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Both players make up for their size with excellent perimeter shooting. Brooks was more explosive coming out of Oregon, but also has a good change of pace to confuse opponents. Holiday has better feel and vision. Brooks has struggled defensively at the NBA level and Holiday will likely encounter the same issues.

How he'd fit with Sixers
It’s tough to project Holiday to the Sixers. His shooting would play well here and playing with a 6-foot-10 point guard would certainly help his cause, but where would he fit? He won’t be a starter right away and the Sixers already feature T.J. McConnell off the bench. McConnell provides energy and top-notch defense that Holiday cannot.

Draft projection
The modern NBA is all about the three so teams will be interested in Holiday as a backup point guard and shooter off the bench. He could go anywhere from the late teens to the mid-20s.

More on the Sixers and the NBA draft