The New Orleans Hornets sent researchers scurrying to the record books faster than their shots kept clanging off the rim.

After the 76ers had dispatched of the Hornets, 88-70, in Sunday's matinee matchup at the Wells Fargo Center, the age-old question begged to be asked - good defense or lousy offense?

Actually, it was a combination of both, but what is indisputable is that the Sixers find themselves on their best roll of the season.

The Sixers (8-15) have won five of seven. If they can remedy their 1-10 road record, then they could make a run for a playoff berth in the top-heavy, but bottom-light, Eastern Conference.

"You never know what to expect at a noon start. I'm always concerned about energy," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "I thought our guys came out and did a great job defensively, got off to a great start."

The new week didn't begin any better for the Hornets than the old one: They found out last Monday that the NBA was purchasing the team.

The Hornets need to shoot the basketball better if they want to attract buyers.

A few gruesome numbers from the Hornets' perspective: They had a franchise-low four assists (compared to 24 for the Sixers). New Orleans shot 1 for 21 in the second quarter, and 24 for 79 (30.4 percent) for the game.

It was the lowest point total by a Sixers opponent this year. The previous low came in a 101-75 victory over visiting Indiana on Nov. 3.

"We did play good defense, but they missed a lot of shots that we thought they could hit," said Elton Brand, who had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Lou Williams scored a team-high 17 points for the Sixers, while Andre Iguodala had 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

"The biggest difference is that we are playing better defensively," Iguodala said. "We are communicating a little better and kind of have a better feel for each other."

The Sixers deserve credit for playing strong defense, but as Brand mentioned, New Orleans missed more than a few chippies.

"We just weren't making shots," said point guard Chris Paul, New Orleans' lone bright spot with 25 points. "We kept settling for outside jump shots instead of attacking the basket."

Paul made 8 of 12 shots. The rest of the team was 16 for 67.

The game was over at halftime, with the Sixers leading by 45-23. New Orleans (14-9) never rebounded from that erratic display of shooting in the second quarter.

This looked more like the Hornets team that has been 3-8 in its last 11 games rather than 11-1 in the first 12. New Orleans came close to approaching Clipper-land in the first half.

The NBA record for fewest points in the first half of a game is 19 by the Los Angeles Clippers against the Lakers on Dec. 14, 1999.

The Sixers are looking to build momentum before an extended road trip that begins Saturday. They visit New Jersey on Tuesday, then host the Clippers on Wednesday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

After that, the Sixers will be on the road for eight straight games, ending with a matchup in New Orleans on Jan. 3.

The Sixers have won six of their last seven home games.

"We have a home stretch and then we get on the road," Brand said. "We know it's imperative that we close down shop and win these games at home."