Embiid, 76ers slide past shorthanded Hornets in OT

Charlotte has now lost four of its last five games after previously winning eight of nine

Philadelphia 76ers guard Isaiah Joe blocks a shot by Charlotte Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr. during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHARLOTTE — A 43-point performance from Joel Embiid, highlighted by six crucial points in overtime, steered the Philadelphia 76ers to a 127-124 road win over the Charlotte Hornets Monday night. 

It was a season-high offensive showing for the four-time All-Star center, who posted 15 rebounds and seven assists in addition to his 15-for-20 shooting night for the Sixers (13-11). Charlotte (14-12) has now lost four of its last five games after previously winning eight of nine.

Considering they were missing five rotational players (LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Ish Smith, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels) due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19, the Hornets flexed their bench depth in the same way they in Sunday’s 130-127 win over Atlanta (13-12).

Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Hornets with 35 points, while P.J. Washington and rookies JT Thor and James Bouknight combined for 35 points off the bench. 

“Fantastic effort. As proud as I was of them last night, I was even more proud of them tonight,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “To have more adversity thrown at them — being a man down and taking these guys to overtime with a shot to win it — I couldn’t be prouder of the group.”

Just hours before tip-off, the Hornets announced that point guard Ish Smith would be sitting out the game and joining his teammates who hit the inactive list Saturday. 

Lacking a true point guard, Borrego opted to run his offense through Oubre and Gordon Hayward. Oubre provided the 3-point shooting (6-for-13) and five rebounds while Hayward had nine assists. 

After the game, Hayward was quick to criticize his own 5-for-19 effort from the field. 

“I think it’s hard as an NBA player to have the morale victory thing,” Hayward said. “We still lost. We feel like we should have won that game. We were up three with a minute left. They made the plays at the end, and we didn’t.”

With 1:11 left in the fourth quarter, Oubre’s 3-point shot broke a 116-116 tie. But Embiid quickly responded with a made free throw and pull-up jump shot on back-to-back possessions, forcing the contest into overtime where he outscored the Hornets single-handedly. 

Miles Bridges posted 16 points, six rebounds and six rebounds for Charlotte in a subdued showing compared to his 32-point night in Atlanta. Cody Martin had 14 points while Nick Richards recorded 12 points and five rebounds as the Hornets’ starting center in Plumlee’s absence. 

Tobias Harris and Shake Milton added 21 points and 16 points, respectively, for Philadelphia. 

“I feel that we were able to just compete with one of the best teams in the East and showing proof, Oubre said. “We’ll see them again on Wednesday, so I think it was a good learning lesson for us.”

Wednesday night’s tip-off rematch between the Hornets and Sixers is set for 7 p.m. at Spectrum Center.