Sixers hold Hornets to franchise low in loss
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday and the Philadelphia 76ers figured they deserved a tongue-lashing from coach Doug Collins after a sloppy, turnover-filled first half against undermanned New Orleans.
The Sixers still failed to reach 80 points by game’s end, but felt better about themselves following a stifling defensive performance that limited the Hornets to a franchise low in points.
Holiday finished with 14 points and 12 assists, and Philadelphia snapped a two-game skid with a 77-62 victory on Wednesday night.
“Coach kind of reamed us at halftime,” Holiday said. “We tried to pressure everything. ... We tried to talk and rotate. We really tried to play as a team.”
Evan Turner also scored 14, and Thaddeus Young and Lavoy Allen each added 12 points for the Sixers, who took the lead for good with a 10-0 run to open the third quarter. The Hornets committed 14 of their 24 turnovers after halftime and scored only 25 points during the final two quarters. Young also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“It wasn’t a masterpiece but we’ll take it,” Collins said. “Our guys are growing, the way they talk with each other. I see some growth from them. It’s just nice to get a win.”
Al-Farouq Aminu was the only Hornets player to score in double figures, with 10 points to go with a career-high 16 rebounds. Ryan Anderson grabbed 10 rebounds and 7-foot reserve Jason Smith blocked a career-high five shots.
The Hornets, who lost for the first time in three games, played without first-round draft choices Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. Davis was not cleared to return from a recent concussion and Rivers had a sprained finger on his left hand.
The team’s previous low was 63 points in a 2009 playoff loss to Denver.
Disappointed as Hornets coach Monty Williams was with his club’s turnover and point total, he stopped short of criticizing his players’ effort.
“When you’re dealing with a young team and trying to nurture that team, the averages say you’re going to have a few nights like this and it’s my job to make sure we bounce back,” Williams said. “If you told me we’re going to hold them to 77 points tonight, I’m thinking we’re going to win. So as bad as we feel, we still held another team under 80.
“It’s hard to be upset with our guys,” he added. “Sometimes you’re disappointed, but with this group I can always find something positive to talk about.”
The Sixers finished with a 30-20 advantage in the paint and scored 26 points off Hornets turnovers, which was more than enough to offset Philadelphia’s 4-of-22 3-point shooting or the Sixers’ inability to get to the foul line, where they attempted only five free throws.
Spencer Hawes finished with 11 points and three of the 76ers’ six blocked shots. Philadelphia also outshot New Orleans 41.7 percent (35 of 84) to 33.3 percent (23 of 69).
New Orleans was the more aggressive team on defense in the first half, forcing 14 turnovers and taking a 37-36 lead into the locker room despite shooting only 37.8 percent (14 of 37) through the opening two quarters. Smith’s eight early points on 3-for-3 shooting and a pair of free throws helped the Hornets keep pace to that point.
“We were just so hesitant in the first half,” Collins said. “We were passing up shots and then trying to pass the ball in an area where we had no place to go. We were so out of sync.”
In the third quarter, however, the Sixers took much better care of the ball, turning it over only once, and buckled down on defense. New Orleans struggled with the pressure, shooting 4 of 15 (26.7 percent) and turning the ball over eight times in the period as Philadelphia blocked four shots and surged to a double-digit lead.
A pair of jumpers by Allen helped the Sixers jump ahead 46-37. Allen added a 17-foot jumper late in the quarter to make it 57-46.
New Orleans continued to struggle offensively in the final period, falling behind by as many as 23 points when Dorell Wright’s back-to-back 3-pointers made it 77-54.
“It’s a long season. Long season. Flush this one down the toilet,” Smith said. “We have a lot of games left. We have to continue to fight, continue to get better and we will. ... I know Coach will hold us accountable for a lot of stuff and we’ve just got to keep our heads up.”
Notes: The Hornets announced that G Eric Gordon, expected to miss the first four to six weeks of the season with a sore right knee, will undergo an “intensive” and “personalized” rehabilitation program away from the club in Los Angeles. ... The Sixers did not attempt a free throw in the first half. ... Veteran Sixers guard Jason Richardson remains sidelined with a sprained left ankle. Turner started in the backcourt with Holiday. ... Hornets 2012 second-round draft pick Darius Miller got his first career start with Rivers out.