By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) March 7, 2018
Philadelphia 128, Charlotte 114 – Box Score
After a one-game detour with whatever the heck happened in Milwaukee Sunday night, the Sixers got back on the road to success Tuesday night in the Queen City. For the second straight game, Philadelphia jumped out to a hot start, again scoring over 70 points in the first half. A 21-4 run late in the second quarter turned a 2-point deficit into a 15-point lead, and this time around, there would be no blowing the double-digit lead.
It was a total team effort across the board for Philadelphia, with all five starters finishing with at least 14 points, but the top star on both ends of the court was Robert Covington. Much maligned lately while stuck in a prolonged shooting slump, the forward led the team with 22 points, shooting 5-9 from three. It was the first 20-point game for Covington since December. Hopefully, this performance was a sign that the streaky shooter is entering one of his hot stretches.
On the defensive side of the ball, Covington was the primary defender on Kemba Walker, hounding the All-Star point guard into just 5 points on 1-9 shooting. As if that stellar work wasn’t enough, Covington also blocked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist so hard that MKG was ejected seconds later for arguing the no-foul call.
While Covington’s night represented a positive turnaround, one guy who hasn’t been struggling with his shot and just needed to keep the train rolling is Dario Saric. The Homie continued his stellar sophomore season, knocking down 4 of 7 threes for 19 points; he is now shooting 38.7% from downtown on the season.
Meanwhile, the guy who gets knocked for not shooting threes at all, keeps getting it done regardless. Ben Simmons tallied 16 points on 8-9 shooting from the field, 8 rebounds, and 13 assists. When he’s not orchestrating the offense, Simmons does a tremendous job either slashing off the ball in the half court or getting out in transition to finish around the basket. One left-handed alley-oop slam off a T.J. McConnell dish had the decent-sized Sixers contingent in attendance going wild.
Unlike the Milwaukee game, the Sixers received a better effort from the bench, helping to maintain that lead when the starters needed a blow. Both Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Bellinelli finished with 11 points, with Ilyasova taking a handful of charges and Belinelli finishing a game-high +26 in his 28 minutes.
This was was nothing special. It didn’t require transcendent play from Philadelphia’s young stars. Rather, we just saw a solid roster of players doing a good job playing within themselves and capably handling business on the road. In a tightly-packed Eastern Conference where the Sixers currently find themselves sitting in 6th place, here’s hoping we see more performance like it.