CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 76ers keep finding ways to defeat the Charlotte Hornets.
Wednesday’s 110-106 victory at the Spectrum Center marked the Sixers’ 16th consecutive series win over the Hornets. It’s the longest current winning streak by an NBA team against a particular opponent.
In the process, the Sixers also swept this week’s two-game series in Charlotte. They posted a 127-124 overtime victory over the Hornets on Monday.
The last time Charlotte beat the Sixers was a 109-93 decision here on Nov. 2, 2016. But Wednesday’s victory extended Philly’s winning streak to three games and gave them a 14-11 record. Meanwhile, this marked the second straight and fifth loss in six games for the undermanned Hornets (14-13).
This marked the third game that guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, center Mason Plumlee, and reserve forward Jalen McDaniels missed after testing positive for COVID-19 Saturday. Meanwhile, reserve point guard Ish Smith, a former Sixer, missed his second game while in protocols.
Tobias Harris downplayed beating Charlotte for the 16th straight time.
“Those are kind of weird stats,” he said. “They have a brand-new team from last year in my opinion. When they are full, it’s a tough team. Charlotte was playing very good basketball up until they had guys get COVID.
“So I don’t like that. Not on a team that has different guys stepping up this year.”
Like in Wednesday’s matchup, Joel Embiid feasted on the undermanned Hornets.
He did most of his damage from the foul line.
Embiid scored 23 of his game-high 32 points in the second half. The 2021 MVP runner-up also finished the game with eight rebounds and four assists.
He made 15 of 19 free throws and 8 of 17 shots one game after finishing with 43 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists.
Meanwhile, Seth Curry finished with 23 points while making 4 of 8 three-pointers. Tobias Harris added 18 points with eight coming in the fourth quarter.
Gordon Hayward paced the Hornets with 31 points.
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Embiid was slowed by foul trouble in the first half. He went to the bench after picking up his third foul with 3 minutes, 6 seconds before intermission. At that time, Embiid had seven points while making 3 of 7 shots and 3 for 4 foul shots.
Embiid didn’t pick up a foul while playing all by but 32 seconds of the third quarter. That enabled him to get to the foul line and hit clutch shots. Embiid made 9 of 11 free throws and shot 3 for 4 en route to scoring 15 points in the quarter.
But the big fella took over the game late.
With the Sixers trailing 98-97 with 3:25 left, he went on to score five of his team’s points in 7-0 run.
Danny Green’s three-pointer 19 seconds later gave them a 100-98 lead. Then Embiid responded with a three-pointer before his dunk gave the Sixers a 105-98 lead with 1:53 to play.
Embiid was whacked on the left side of his face, near his eye by Kelly Oubre Jr. on a dunk attempt. After being fouled, he took a couple of steps before resting in pain on the baseline. The Hornets fans booed while Embiid was being evaluated.
However, this was a scary moment due to Embiid’s previous history.
He missed 10 games after suffering a fractured orbital bone near his left eye on March 28, 2018 against the New York Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center. Back then, he returned to play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Miami Heat wearing a mask.
Harris overcomes streaking half
Let’s just say Harris was streaking.
The Sixers power forward made his first three shots, including two three-pointers, in route to scoring eight early points. However, he went on to his next three shots until making a layup with 55.7 seconds left in the half. Harris had 10 points on 4 for 7 through the first two quarters. Harris didn’t attempt a shot in the third quarter.
But Harris came up with three big baskets in the fourth quarter while scoring eight points during that time while in the flow of things.
“That has been my game, in the flow,” Harris said. “The fourth quarter I was able to get some looks and see it go in, and was able to execute off that. I know that we needed to get some buckets. I wanted to step up for the team and score.”
Oubre’s off night
One of the biggest questions heading into game had to do with Oubre. Would the Hornets guard be able to duplicate the shooting success he had on Monday night?
The answer was no, not even close.
Oubre had a tough night shooting, missing eight of his first 10 attempts. He ended up shooting 8-for-22, including making 3 of 12 three-pointers, en route to his 22 points. This comes after Oubre finished with 35 points while making 6 of 13 three-pointers on Monday.
Things got testy after Hornets forward Miles Bridges plowed into the back of Andre Drummond late in the third quarter. It marked the second time the Sixers reserve center was whacked in the game. This time, however, no foul was called. Drummond approached Bridges. The two had to be separated and received double technicals.
Drummond didn’t speak to the media post game, while Bridges had a lot to say.
He accused Drummond of flopping and wasn’t impressed by it.
“How big is he?” Bridges said. “Seven foot. 280? It’s nothing. Nobody is ever going to fight in the NBA. The NBA is kind of like WWE. Ain’t nobody about to fight. He had his chance to do something, but it’s all about entertainment.”
Good homecoming for Curry
Curry had a good five days back in the Queen City.
The Sixers shooting guard built a lot of great memories and lasting relationships in his hometown. So basketball aside, it was good to be back here Saturday through Wednesday.
“It was good seeing familiar faces,” Curry said before Wednesday’s shootaround at the Spectrum Center. “It was relaxing, chilling. Nothing too crazy.”
Curry’s father, former Hornets great, and team color commentator Dell, still lives in the Charlotte area. Curry was a standout at Charlotte Christian before playing college ball at Liberty for one season, then transferring to Duke.
This marked his eighth season in the NBA. Curry has had some success against his hometown team. He averaged 11.3 points while shooting 43.8% in eight games against Charlotte before.
The Sixers host the Utah Jazz at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night in the second game of a back to back. The Jazz are 17-7 record after Wednesday night’s 136-104 road victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Utah defeated the Sixers, 120-85, back on Nov. 16 in Salt Lake City. Philly was without Embiid (COVID-19), Green (left hamstring tightness) and Matisse Thybulle (COVID-19) during that game.