76ers, fighting for playoff seeding, host woeful Hornets


The Philadelphia 76ers will look to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

After falling 106-79 to the New York Knicks on Tuesday, the Sixers lost 114-105 to the Milwaukee Bucks two days later.

Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers (36-30) with 30 points against the Bucks, while Tobias Harris added 15, Cameron Payne 13 and Kyle Lowry 12.

The Sixers continued to struggle without reigning Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid, especially on the defensive end. They also will enter Saturday’s matchup without injured De’Anthony Melton (back) and Robert Covington (knee). Harris is questionable with a sprained right ankle.

“I think we’re pretty close,” Maxey said of finding a rhythm without Embiid. “I mean, that game we played like 3 1/2 really good quarters. Down the stretch, I didn’t make a shot. We tried to get some stops, and the ball didn’t bounce our way a couple of times, but I think we’re doing a good job. Coach (Nick) Nurse and them, they’re really implementing a good system from when the big fella’s out, and I think the guys are really buying into it.”

The Sixers are 10-22 without Embiid this season. They’re trending toward a spot in the Eastern Conference play-in portion of the playoffs.

And they’re simply trying to remain positive.

“I think that the effort was really good,” Nurse after the most recent loss. “I think, obviously, I think you could see schematically defensively, we were doing a lot of things we wanted to do. Especially, in the first half we turned them over a bunch. Probably the difference in the game, we didn’t quite get to as many turnovers in the second, although there probably should have been a few more.”

The Hornets will arrive in Philadelphia following a 107-96 home loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday.

It was the Hornets’ 50th loss of the season with 15 games remaining.

Charlotte (17-50) was led by Vasilije Micic with 21 points. Grant Williams added 20 and Miles Bridges had 17 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Miller scored 14 points, Tre Mann contributed 12, and Nick Richards pulled down 15 rebounds.

Yet the result was another loss in a season filled with defeats and injuries.

The Hornets were missing several key injured players, including LaMelo Ball, Seth Curry, Cody Martin, Bryce McGowens and Mark Williams.

The Hornets shot 37.2 percent from the field, including 6 of 37 from 3-point range.

“Sometimes, when you’ve missed three or four, you’ve got to drive the ball with force and play harder, trying to get something more going to the basket,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “Even in the second half we just shot the ball really poorly.”

The lack of interior shots has been an issue for much of the season. It continued against the Suns.

“When the ball is not going in the basket, there’s a lot of gray area there,” Clifford said. “When you’ve missed four or five jumpers in a row, without getting something to the basket, it’s a good idea to get something to the basket.”

Micic was a bright spot, however, with his second straight game of at least 20 points. He was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in February.

“I think he’s getting more and more comfortable and more and more confident,” Clifford said.

–Field Level Media

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