Charlotte Hornets

Marco Belinelli's wish has come to fruition with Sixers

Marco Belinelli's wish has come to fruition with Sixers

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Marco Belinelli was weighing his options following his buyout from the Hawks, he wanted to select a team where he would have an important role.

He’s carving one out for himself on the Sixers. 

The veteran guard scored a game-high 22 points Sunday in the Sixers 119-102 win over the Hornets (see observations). It was his 50th career performance of 20 points or more, so that figure wasn’t an anomaly. What stood out the most, though, was how he reached that total: an ultra-efficient 9 for 10 shooting from the field and 3 for 4 from three. 

“He’s that classic weapon that you have coming off a bench that can erupt just for quick buckets,” Brett Brown said. 

Belinelli signed with the Sixers in February following a buyout from Atlanta. The team was looking to boost its offensive production in the second unit as they approached the playoffs and Belinelli fit that critical need. 

The Sixers saw Belinelli as almost a mirror to JJ Redick in the second unit. They knew they could also pair them in a guard-heavy lineup as well to boost their scoring power and spread the floor. Belinelli has a 37.6 three-point shooting percentage over his 11-year NBA career. 

“I just love to play with these guys,” Belinelli said. “With Amir (Johnson), with Joel (Embiid), we have some other guys that set great screens for us, for me, for JJ, for (Robert Covington). It’s just important to come off the screen well, try to score the basket, but at the same time, you know, be able to create something for teammates too.” 

Belinelli has a knack for making difficult shots look easy. Well, to him, they are. He’s been practicing challenging attempts long enough that they’ve become part of his game. 

“He’s one of these rare players that I think shoots better off balance,” Brown said. “He came in and hits tough shots. Gosh, he hits tough shots — on the fly, on a dime, fading away, falling back.” 

That’s part of the reason why the Sixers can dish him the ball and count on him to deliver.

“Just let him shoot,” Ben Simmons said. “When he is open, let him shoot, even when they’re the hardest shots you can possibly make. We just let him play his game and feed off everybody’s energy.”

The Sixers will need Belinelli’s spark on the road to the playoffs as try to make up for the absences of Joel Embiid (left orbital fracture, concussion) and Dario Saric (right elbow soreness). Belinelli is more than ready to contribute. 

“He really all-in-all has been a huge pickup for us,” Brown said. 

Ben Simmons powers Sixers past Hornets for 10th straight win

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Ben Simmons powers Sixers past Hornets for 10th straight win

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Sixers overcome a second hit to the starting lineup Sunday to pull off a 119-102 victory over the Hornets, extending their winning streak to 10 games and improving to 46-30. 

The Sixers have not won 10 straight since the beginning of the 2000-01 season.

"The spirit of the group has been excellent," Brett Brown said. "We are playing good basketball, and I am sure because of all of that, it is all interconnected. Our 10 wins have those types of qualities." 

Daric Saric joined Joel Embiid on the injury list after being sidelined by a sore right elbow (see story). He actually suffered the injury Wednesday, the same game in which Embiid was hurt (orbital fracture, concussion), but played Friday. 

• The Sixers plugged Ersan Ilyasova into the starting lineup, the role he had for the team last season. Ilyasova fouled out with 16 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes. 

“He’s a vet, he knows how to play the game,” Simmons said of Ilyasova pregame. “He knows what we need from him to step up and hit shots and make plays.” 

The Sixers also shifted Robert Covington over to power forward at times. He picked off a massive seven steals. 

• Simmons fell two rebounds shy of his 12th triple-double, yet his 35th double-double still was impressive. Simmons posted 20 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds in 32 minutes.

"All over the place, his presence, his disposition, and lately his voice I think reeks of leadership," Brown said. 

There were too many highlight plays to include all of them in here, so check out this one which sums up his game:

• Marco Belinelli stood out off the bench. Not for his game-high 22 points, but the fact he scored them off an efficient 9 for 10 shooting from the field. His veteran experience is apparent with his shot selection. 

"I just love to play with these guys," Belinelli said. 

• Markelle Fultz found his teammates more Sunday than the previous game. He dished four assists (compared to zero Friday) and looked to get them shots along the three-point line. Fultz scored four points (2 of 5 FG) and pulled down one rebound in 16 minutes. 

• The Sixers tallied 36 assists on 48 made field goals. Sunday was the ninth-straight game that they've recorded 30-plus assists, which set a franchise record. 

• The Spectrum Center was filled with Sixers fans, many whom arrived early to try to catch the players walking off the court after warmups. Among the jerseys spotted were Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Allen Iverson and … Zach Ertz. 

Dario Saric sidelined with right elbow injury against Hornets

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USA Today Images

Dario Saric sidelined with right elbow injury against Hornets

If the Sixers are going to win their 10th straight game, they'll have to do it without one of their key pieces.

Dario Saric is out for Sunday afternoon's contest (1 p.m./NBCSP) against the Hornets with a swollen right elbow, Brett Brown said pregame. 

Brown noted Saric's elbow was bothering him in the Sixers' 101-91 win Friday over the Hawks when Saric scored just six points on 2 of 10 shooting. 

"Rarely are players supportive of sitting," Brown said. "Today, I could tell he felt like it would be best for the team and him if he were to give it a rest knowing that we have a back-to-back around the corner."

With seven games remaining, the Sixers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Cavaliers and a half-game ahead of the Pacers. After taking on the Hornets, they'll be back in Philadelphia to play the Nets on Tuesday, then travel to Detroit to play the Pistons Wednesday.

Saric has been an iron man for the Sixers, playing in 74 of the team's 75 games. He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Ersan Ilyasova, who scored 21 points in Friday's win.