On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers held a commanding 47-36 lead over the Orlando Magic at halftime, only to give up 41 points in the third quarter en route to a 103-101 loss. In the team’s 109-93 loss to the Charlotte Hornets that dropped the team to 0-4, it felt like deja vu.
The Sixers were without Joel Embiid for the second of two back-to-back games, but didn’t seem to miss him too much in the first half. Gerald Henderson chipped in 11 points on 5-5 shooting through the first two frames, and newly acquired Ersan Ilyasova added 9 points of his own during his first action in a Sixers uniform. Both Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes were forced to sit with early foul trouble, forcing Ilyasova to see some time at center. But Philadelphia managed to outscore Charlotte in the paint 22-12, and held the Hornets to just 33.3 percent shooting as they took a 53-46 lead into halftime.
Then the wheels fell off.
Just like Tuesday, the Sixers allowed Charlotte to have their way in the third quarter. Assisted by Philadelphia’s five turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half, Charlotte jumped out to a quick 15-0 run. Nicolas Batum scored 17 of Charlotte’s 39 points in the third, and the team converted 15-21 shots to take an 85-73 lead into the fourth quarter. By that point, the Sixers had already quit.
After a dreadful first half, the Hornets finished the game shooting 49.4 percent from the field, and 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova led the Sixers with 14 points a piece on a combined 10-25 shooting. The newly acquired Turkish forward looked solid offensively, showing range from beyond the arc and some effort on the glass.
Jahlil Okafor finished with just 12 points (4-8 FG, 4-5 FT) and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes of action, his longest playing stint of the season. Okafor looked interested in rebounding tonight, but his inability to set screens for the guards made it impossible for them to get any penetration, which was key on Tuesday night. His defense is still a serious work in progress, both from a footwork and awareness standpoint. The same can be said for backup big man Richaun Holmes, who continues to struggle with his positioning the pick-and-roll. Holmes finished with 11 points (4-4 FG, 2-2 FT), knocking down his first three-point attempt of the season.
The Sixers now have two days off until their next game on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and hopefully they can take that time to figure out their third quarter bugaboos.