It says something when J.J. Redick and Dario Saric, the Philadelphia 76ers two best sharpshooters on the season, can go a combined 3-10 from deep -- and the team can still end up tying a season high for triples made. That happened last night against the Charlotte Hornets, as J.J. and Dario's calibration was off for most of the night, but Marco Belinelli got red hot, Joel Embiid was left too open too often, and Robert Covington stayed schemin', as the Sixers shot 18-44 from deep and pulled away late from Charlotte, winning 108-94.
It was typical of the condensed season series between these two teams -- the Hornets made the Sixers sweat for the better part of three quarters, even leading by seven at the half, but just got outmuscled late by the Sixers' superior talent and execution. Good to be that one of the two teams, of course, and our two stars proved the main difference again, with Embiid scoring 25 on 10-17 shooting while matching a career high in boards (19) for the second straight game, and Ben Simmons posting his his third triple-double in four games, including a sparkling 15 assists with 0 turnovers -- numbers only hit by one other player (Atlanta's Dennis Schroder) this season. (Joel and his nine turnovers was one TO away from a very different sort of trip-dub, but who's counting?)
Still, the Sixers' MVP in this one might've been RoCo, who scored 18 on 6-12 shooting and at least made life tough for Hornets guard Kemba Walker. You just can't say enough about how much more dangerous this team is when Covington is hitting regularly, and after about a three-month frigid spell, Robert has has rediscovered his early-season form -- shooting 47% from the field and 42% from three this month after only hitting 35% (and 29% from deep) in February. Cov's defensive toughness and general hoops IQ makes him a net asset even when he's a bricklayer from deep, but when he converts reliably, he just might be the damn team MVP.
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Three in a row for the Sixers now, who still sit entrenched in the sixth seed -- but with a huge Wednesday coming up, where the three teams immediately ahead of them all have major challenges (Cavs-Raptors, Pacers-Pelicans, Wizards-Spurs) while the Sixers get to host the tanktastic Memphis Grizzlies. Just a game and a half separates three through six in the East, and the Sixers still have by far the easiest schedule remaining. Anyone still think Brett Brown needs to be fired?