Sometimes the schedule and injuries catch up to you.
Coming off an impressive and plucky win over the Nets at home Tuesday, the woefully undermanned Sixers appeared to have tired legs in a 107-101 loss to the Hornets on the road Wednesday. Shake Milton nearly had a triple-double with 22 points, a season-high nine assists and seven rebounds. Turnovers (19) and three-point shooting (9 of 37), two things indicative of a tired team, did the Sixers in.
They were once again without Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. They also didn’t have Matisse Thybulle, who had been severely limited by an ankle injury the last couple games.
The Sixers now sit at 9-9 on the season. They’ll travel to Orlando for a pair of games against impressive No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and the Magic on Friday and Sunday.
Here are takeaways from a rough night for the Sixers.
- This Hornets court is funky. It messed with my eyes.
- It seemed apparent from the jump that the Sixers could attack the rim at will. Montrezl Harrell scored the first four points and Tobias Harris was aggressive getting downhill, continuing his bully ball tendencies from the Nets win. Fourteen of the Sixers’ 33 first-quarter points came in the paint.
- De’Anthony Melton and Shake Milton have been so impressive. They’re running the offense, getting to their spots on the floor and making good reads in the pick-and-roll. The Sixers’ bench is going to benefit long term from so many guys being out, especially with Milton who seems to be finding his 2019-20 form.
- Dominant first quarter for the Sixers on both ends. They shot 60 percent and held the Hornets below 40. Melton led all scorers with 13 points. He also had four rebounds and two steals. Sixers took the period 33-21.
- With Nick Richards in the game Charlotte started evening things up on the glass and in the paint. The young big out of Kentucky had eight points and four rebounds in just under 10 minutes. The Hornets cut the lead under double-digits less than three minutes into the third.
- The three ball just wasn’t falling early. The Sixers started 3 of 14 from deep. It’s likely the result of traveling for the second half of a back-to-back. Their offense was generating great looks against the Hornets’ defense.
- Shake Milton technical? Weird. That looks like one that got could be rescinded.
- Harrell, who struggled a bit Tuesday and saw Paul Reed take the majority of the minutes at the five, looked spry against his former team. Never one to lack energy, he seemed to breathe a little life into the Sixers’ offense with 12 first-half points.
if you need us, we'll be watching this on repeat. pic.twitter.com/0BZZeNVNsn— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 24, 2022
- Conversely, the Sixers’ defense severely lacked paint protection when Harrell was in over Reed. Charlotte scored 32 of its 53 first-half points in the paint.
- The Sixers looked tired to close the half. The Hornets went on a 9-0 to make it a one-point game, 54-53, going into the locker room. P.J. Washington had 12 points for Charlotte. Melton was held scoreless in the second. Milton up to nine points, five assists and four rebounds. Harris was OK (eight points), but it’s fair to wonder if the multiple injuries are affecting him. The Sixers also had nine turnovers after having that many for the entire game in their win over Brooklyn.
- Strong start to the third for Milton who was (mostly) awesome Wednesday night. He buried a three, came up with a big offensive rebound and found Harris for a dunk. He was on triple-double watch with 12 points, six assists and six rebounds not even midway through the period.
Bball Paul had to hold the whole bench back during their celebration. pic.twitter.com/2oPPzwk92U— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 24, 2022
- At this point it’s getting wild that P.J. Tucker hasn’t scored. Surely he’s missing Harden’s playmaking, but Tucker is also missing bunnies and corner threes, his speciality.
- The Sixers’ offense completely stalled. The biggest culprit was still the three. They started the half 1 of 11 from beyond. Charlotte was using the long rebounds to go on the run the other way. The Sixers frankly looked like the better team most of the night, but the Hornets looked like the well-rested team.
- An 11-2 run to close the third and the Hornets took a 79-75 advantage into the fourth. Hard to criticize the Sixers much here. It didn’t feel like an effort issue or even necessarily poor execution. This team just looked exhausted.
- Paul Reed took a hard fall after going up for an offensive rebound and getting fouled. It looked like he smacked his back on the floor while his arms were up in the air and he couldn’t cushion his fall. He appeared to be in a lot of pain, but got up under his own power and stayed in the game.
- The Sixers (finally) got a pair of threes, one from Melton, one from Niang, to recapture the lead. They also changed up their defensive strategy, blitzing more pick-and-rolls. Tough to do with tired legs, but it did appear to hurry and muddy up Charlotte’s offense.
- Two ugly turnovers from Milton led to two easy buckets from the Hornets who built up a five-point lead. Turnovers and poor outside shooting doomed the Sixers.
- P.J. Tucker scored! He hit a corner three in a big spot. Milton then came up with a steal and a layup to get the Sixers within three late in the game. After a basket from Kelly Oubre, Jr., Milton got a huge and-one floater to make it a two-point game. Credit the Sixers for just not going away.
- Not sure I agree with Doc Rivers’ decision to go small in the final minutes of the game. Can’t kill him for anything considering the lack of options, but it’s fair to wonder if he should’ve gone to Reed as Terry Rozier drove and finished with nobody at the rim to stop him, putting Charlotte up six with under a minute left.
- Harris hit a late three to keep things interesting, but it was obvious the Sixers just didn’t have much to give down the stretch.