Dwight Howard

Sixers silence the noise in Charlotte

Sixers silence the noise in Charlotte

BOX SCORE

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.  

Should Embiid shoot more 3s? His coach thinks so

Should Embiid shoot more 3s? His coach thinks so

Brett Brown wants his 7-foot-2 center shooting more three-pointers. Yes, the Sixers coach would prefer to see Joel Embiid, the man who leads the league with 10.1 post-up points per game, launching more from deep.

“I really want him to shoot six to eight threes per game,” Brown said after the Sixers’ 110-99 win Friday night (see observations). “So how does that happen and he’s still an interior presence, a paint-catch guy? If you look at our team, I’m convinced that the three-point line is where the sport is heading and I think it’s going to rear its head in the playoffs, and our point guards don’t shoot threes. So already, you’re kind of dealing with zero with Ben (Simmons) and with T.J. (McConnell)."

Embiid shot 1 for 4 from three-point range Friday. For the season, he’s shooting 31.5 percent from deep on 3.3 attempts per game.

In the first quarter Friday, Embiid had no hesitation shooting when Dwight Howard played off him. He started slow, however, making just two of his first nine shots overall.

But with a mix of crafty rip-through moves and inside strength, Embiid ensured Howard was in foul trouble all night. The Hornets’ big man picked up his third foul with 2:21 left in the first quarter and finished with six points, six rebounds and five fouls in only 25 minutes.

“Dwight, he’s had his years,” Embiid said. “He’s still really good. Watching him this season, he’s been playing really well. But every night I’m going on the court, I feel like whoever I’m going against, I just need to play better than them because I know I consider myself as one of the top players in the league. So I feel like I always have a target on my back.”

The Hornets center had to sit out the end of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth after picking up his fifth foul, but Embiid saw Howard’s intensity pick up when he returned for crunch time. That meant less space for Embiid on the perimeter, but it didn’t hurt the Sixers’ offense. The Sixers scored 36 points, with nine assists, in the final frame.

“I thought in the fourth quarter, Dwight kind of took it personal and he didn’t want to help off me,” Embiid said. “So I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to keep playing our two-man game and getting my teammates involved,’ and we got a lot of layups and dunks off that. I think on offense, whatever I can do to help set my teammates free, I do. If it takes me being at the three-point line for Ben to attack the basket, that’s what I’m doing.

“If I’m open from three, I know the coaches want me to take like take 10 threes a game, which is not going to, well, it’s already happened (once — on Dec. 28, 2017, against Portland, Embiid shot 6 for 12 from long range). But I don’t know how many times it will happen in my career unless I really feel it. But my job is really to draw some attention and open up the court for my teammates.”

Sixers eventually swat away pesky bugs

Sixers eventually swat away pesky bugs

BOX SCORE

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.