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Recap: Sixers make Nic Batum look silly in 105-99 win

Philadelphia makes Batum eat his words.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Nicolas Batum may not have known what Sixers team he was dealing with prior to Monday’s game, but he certainly is now.

The eight-year NBA pro -- who’s not typically known to speak out -- issued a guarantee that the Hornets would defeat the Sixers. After Philadelphia’s 105-99 win, he’d certainly wish he didn’t say anything at all.

Batum had a chance to close the Sixers lead to two points with 25 seconds left, but missed an open corner three, sealing the team’s fate. TJ McConnell, who scored just two less points than Batum, certainly didn’t take kindly to his comments, and made sure to let the Frenchman know in his postgame interview with Molly Sullivan.

Overall, a great team performance from Philadelphia, who have now won three in a row.

Here’s how they graded out tonight:

Nerlens Noel (12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks): A+

Noel has been solid for the Sixers all season, but has shown a different level of energy since stepping into the starting role on Saturday, particularly on the defensive end. He was all over the floor, hedging on ball screens, then rushing to double in the paint, then sprinting back to his original assignment. Like Robert Covington, he’s an All-Pro ball poker, and finished the game with a team leading three steals.

A sampling of the goods:

On the offensive side of the ball, he continues to be consistent lob threat, using his length to finish even when the passes are poor. The future in Philly is still uncertain, but one thing is clear: the man deserves to be paid, and the Sixers should be the ones to do it.

Dario Saric (18 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists): A

Saric has been hot and cold all season long, but with at least five straight games of double-digit scoring, he’s starting to show real signs of consistency. He began the game 0-3, but continued to fire away and finished the game 8-17 from the floor. As Saric’s three-point shooting eluded him tonight, he turned his focus to attacking the rim off the dribble.

I’ve mentioned this a couple times over the past few weeks, but Saric needs to be given the opportunity to run the second unit. His passing is still remarkably underutilized on this team, and he continues to put it on display when given the opportunity. On two occasions, Saric pulled down a rebound, led the team in transition, then threw a gorgeous pass to a teammate for a basket. He finished the game with three assists. Consistency is key for Saric, and if he can improve his three-point shooting, there’s not much he won’t be able to do. The 11 rebounds also gave Saric his fifth double-double of the season.

TJ McConnell (14 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal): B+

McConnell continues to be one of the more consistent players on the team, and he’s displayed a real confidence in creating his own offense since hitting the game winner against the Orlando Magic. He was fearless in attacking the basket against Frank Kaminsky (who isn’t the world’s most menacing rim protector), and finished the game 6-9 around the rim. As the Hornets closed within striking distance, McConnell knocked down a turnaround jumper from the foul line to keep them at arm’s length. For someone who never hit a game winning shot prior to playing in the NBA, he’s starting to display a clutch gene. McConnell, who averages just six points per game, has scored in double figures in four of the team’s last six games.

Gerald Henderson (12 points, 4 rebounds): B

Not a bad game for the veteran who was drafted by the Hornets with the 12th pick in the 2009 draft. He never does anything flashy, but continues to provide some quality mid-range scoring, as well as passable on-ball defense. Henderson hasn’t really been talked about a ton, but he’s been the team’s best three-point shooter statistically, and a steadying on-court presence. No complaints about keeping him around for another year.

Robert Covington (17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists): B -

Covington started the game shooting 3-6 from beyond the arc, then missed his next four shots down the stretch. As always, he made his impact felt on the defensive end finishing with three steals and a block.

Nik Stauskas (11 points, 6 rebounds): B-

Stauskas continues to shoot well from beyond the arc, and knocked down two threes in the opening frame. He struggled to score the rest of the game, but he’s starting to find different ways to contribute. He finished the game with 6 rebounds, and is averaging 4.4 boards per game over his past five. It’s nice to see him trying to do more than just bomb away from deep.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (5 points): C+

Luwawu-Cabarrot hasn’t played much as of late, and appeared in just 11 minutes of action against the Hornets, but there’s plenty of reason to be excited about him. His three-point stroke seems to be coming along, he’s having little trouble attacking the basket (finishing is another story), and he’s held his own defensively. He’s going to look like a steal in the next year or two.

Richaun Holmes (3 points, 4 rebounds): C+

A relatively quiet game for Richaun, but his high energy level has made him a menace on the glass. He had two rebounds (two offensive, two defensive) in just 19 minutes, and is averaging nearly 10 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Sergio Rodriguez (8 points, 4 assists): C

Rodriguez’s two threes (one which beat the first quarter buzzer) was a nice sight sore eyes, but he’s pretty much been a non-factor otherwise. He’s incapable of guarding opposing point guards, and was a large part of the reason Kemba Walker went off for X points on just X shots.

Ersan Ilyasova (5 points, 10 rebounds): C

Tonight was the bad that naturally comes with a player like Ilyasova: when you spend a lot of time taking bad, contested jumpers, you’re naturally gonna go 2-7 some nights. Luckily, he still pulled down 10 boards and was still a +2, so we’ll give him a pass for tonight.

The Sixers take on the Celtics in Boston in their last game prior to the All-Star break.

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