Well, it wasn’t always pretty, but the Sixers broke their three-game losing streak in their return home.
They took care of business, beating the Hornets, 114-106, at the Wells Fargo Center Sunday night.
If you take away a horrendous second quarter, the Sixers outplayed Charlotte just about the entire night to improve their record to 6-3 on the young season.
They did so without All-Star point guard Ben Simmons (AC joint sprain), who missed his second straight game.
Here are observations from the win.
• The Sixers started this one off like they were going to roll. They had assists on 11 of their first 13 baskets. They were making threes. They were using their size to disrupt Charlotte’s offense.
Then in the second quarter, they fell apart. They were outscored 34-20 in large part because of turnovers and undisciplined defense. It elicited boos from the crowd. After being up by as many as 14, they trailed 58-53 going into the half. When the Hornets went to a zone late in the second, the Sixers didn’t have an answer.
The Sixers restored order in the third thanks in large part to the play of Al Horford and a much better defensive effort.
Embiid looks like Embiid ...
After two rough outings in Utah and Denver, Joel Embiid was much more active Sunday. Brown said pregame that Embiid didn’t look like himself during the road trip and that one of his biggest disappointments was Embiid not rolling hard to the basket. There was a noticeable difference in the way he was rolling against the Hornets.
Charlotte likely switched to a zone because Embiid was having his way on the block. He had 15 points (5 of 7 shooting) in 15 first-half minutes.
He handled double teams better than he had in the last two contests. He committed just two turnovers and had three assists — including a beauty of a cross-court pass for a Josh Richardson corner three to start the second half. Embiid finished with 18 points (6 of 10), nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 25 minutes.
... and Horford looks like Horford
Lost in Embiid struggling out West was Horford looking a little tired as well. The 33-year-old looked rejuvenated back on his home floor.
CLEAR THE WAY— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 10, 2019
BIG AL COMING THROUGH. pic.twitter.com/9HgxW3ZCVX
He was much more active on both ends and took advantage of rookie first-rounder P.J. Washington, repeatedly playing bully ball in the post.
He looked awfully spry on this beautiful spin move and reverse layup for an and-one.
Tough buckets for Horford!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 11, 2019
He works his way in for a pair and the extra shot as the Sixers lead, 72-66. pic.twitter.com/SidyPtEgVQ
He had 15 points (7 of 9), seven rebounds and five assists.
A viable bench?
Both point guards continue to play well in the absence of Simmons. Raul Neto’s pick-and-roll defense has been a pleasant surprise — though he had a few tough moments in the second quarter — and he continues to shoot the basketball at a high rate.
While the Sixers do lose something defensively with him in the game, Trey Burke has also acquitted himself pretty darn well. Known more as an isolation player, Burke has done well running the offense and has hit his open looks for the most part.
Furkan Korkmaz continues to shoot the ball with confidence. In addition to hitting threes (3 of 8, 17 points), he also made a pair of really nice floaters. This doesn’t even look like the same guy that we saw last season — or even early in this season, for that matter.
Brown admitted that he wished he’d given Kyle O’Quinn second-half minutes against the Nuggets after he was so effective in the first half. With Embiid and Horford healthy, O’Quinn still got time Sunday. It didn’t look like that would be the case to start the season, but O’Quinn has played well and Brown has expanded his rotation to get the veteran big minutes.
Don’t look now, but the Sixers actually appear to have some depth.
Looking like the real J-Rich
Richardson was quietly solid Sunday night. He hit his most threes on the season (3 of 6) and stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and and a steal. He continues to be the Sixers’ most consistent defender. Perhaps not having to handle backup point guard duties has lightened the load for Richardson a bit. This is more of the player we saw in Miami.
Tobias Harris also a solid night with 14 points (6 of 9), seven rebounds and five assists.
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