CHARLOTTE — Here are my main takeaways and “best” and “worst” awards from the 76ers’ 119-102 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday at the Spectrum Center.
- As the first pick in the 2016 draft, Ben Simmons came into the league as a great talent. However, his level of play has gone up a notch over the last month. His latest dominant performance came against the Hornets. The point guard had 20 points, 15 assists, eight rebounds, three steals, two blocks and just one turnover in 31 minutes, 52 seconds. He also displayed vocal leadership.
- Amir Johnson had a huge role in the victory, even though his statistics might say otherwise. The Sixers center, who’s starting in place of injured Joel Embiid, missed four of his five shots and scored only four points. He also grabbed five rebounds in 30:32 of action. However, Johnson did all the unheralded work that enabled his teammates to excel. He set hard screens that allowed Marco Belinelli and other teammates to get open shots.
- This was one of T. J. McConnell‘s best games in recent weeks. With his family in the stands, the reserve guard had six points on 3-for-6 shooting and four assists. He didn’t look out of place while playing shooting guard. McConnell also did a great job of running the offense when the ball was in his hands.
- Hornets coach Steve Clifford said that JJ Redick and Belinelli are perfect fits for the Sixers. Who can argue against his assessment of Belinelli after Sunday’s game. Belinelli scored 22 points and hit 9 of 10 shots. It was the most points by a Sixers reserve all season. After being inconsistent in his first few games, Belinelli has provided the spark off the bench that the team needed.
- The Sixers had 36 assists on 48 baskets, marking their ninth consecutive game with at least 30 assists. They joined the Hornets (13 games in 1989), Boston Celtics (10 in 1972) and Golden State Warriors (10 in 2016) as the only teams in NBA history to accomplish that feat. The Sixers also posted a team-record eight straight victories of at least 10 points.
“Best” and “worst” awards
- Best performance: This goes to Simmons on a day when Belinelli shot 90 percent and had the game high in points. Simmons assisted on a several of those baskets. Plus, the point guard had his imprint on the entire game — not just when he was scoring.
- Worst performance: Kemba Walker, the Hornets’ all-star point guard, apparently can’t avoid receiving this award when facing the Sixers. He got it this time for missing 5 of 7 shots en route to scoring 10 points. He also had four turnovers.
- Best defensive performance: Robert Covington wins this with ease. The Sixers small forward had a season-high seven steals. That was one shy of the career high he set at Houston on Nov. 27, 2015.
- Worst statistic: This goes to the Hornets’ missing all five of their three-point attempts in the fourth quarter.
- Best statistic: This goes to Belinelli for shooting 9 for 10.