Sixers run out of steam, fall to .500 again with loss

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3 observations after Sixers run out of steam, fall to .500 again originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers simply didn’t have enough gas left in the tank Wednesday night in Charlotte.

On the second night of a back-to-back, the team fell to 9-9 this season with a 107-101 loss to the Hornets. Their collective exhaustion was obvious in the second half.

Shake Milton posted 22 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Hornets guard Terry Rozier scored a team-high 22.

Again, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Jaden Springer were sidelined by injuries. Matisse Thybulle also sat with left ankle tenosynovitis.

Charlotte was down LaMelo Ball (left ankle sprain) and Cody Martin (left knee procedure). Dennis Smith Jr. exited in the second quarter after suffering a left ankle sprain.

The Sixers will next face the Magic in a road mini-series on Friday and Sunday. Here are observations on their loss to the Hornets:

Sixers start hot, attack in pick-and-roll 

Montrezl Harrell started a second straight game and scored the Sixers’ first hoop, rolling to the rim and throwing down a dunk.

On the Sixers’ second possession, a De’Anthony Melton-Harrell pick-and-roll resulted in two Harrell free throws. Tobias Harris also did a nice job recognizing that Harrell’s ball screens could help him get downhill, shield off defenders with his body, and score in the paint. Milton was on the same page, seeing the opportunities often available with veteran center Mason Plumlee in deep drop coverage. A Milton runner grew the Sixers’ lead to 12-4 and the team’s advantage got as high as 13 points.

Melton was excellent early, building on another strong performance Tuesday in the Sixers’ win over the Nets with 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first quarter. The 24-year-old did commit one costly turnover when he declined an open three-pointer, tossed an uncertain pass, and fueled a Hornets fast break. Still, an occasional mistake created by unselfish motivations is fine.

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