Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (R). File photo by Ray Stubblebine/UPI | License Photo
Coming off a yo-yo home-and-home with the Chicago Bulls -- a 112-110 loss on Wednesday in Chicago followed by a 135-106 home win on Friday night -- the Charlotte Hornets head to Philadelphia for a Saturday night showdown with the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
They're hoping to see more of the offense they flashed at home against the 76ers' struggling defense rather than the flat-footed performance against the Bulls just two days earlier.
After shooting below 44 percent in Chicago, Charlotte shot 57 percent from the field, 44 percent from 3-point range and 94 percent from the free-throw line on Friday, with eight players scoring in double figures.
Kemba Walker led the way with 30 points and Tony Parker had 18 points off the bench as they flummoxed Zach LaVine, who had 20 points but a negative-23 plus/minus ratio.
On Wednesday, LaVine had 32 points, five assists and four rebounds while making 11 of 12 free throws in the narrow win, including two with less than a second left.
Not much changed for the Hornets heading into Friday's matchup.
"My tendency right now is to go make changes all over the place, but we've got to stay disciplined, stay poised, and give this group another shot to respond," Hornets coach James Borrego told reporters on Thursday.
While the Hornets have been up-and-down, the Sixers have been just down during a two-game slide in which the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks soured Philadelphia's Midwest swing by averaging 128 points.
The 76ers allowed 50 points to Detroit's Blake Griffin in a 133-132 loss on Tuesday and afforded a triple-double to Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo on Thursday.
"Rebounding especially," 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters after Friday's practice. "You can talk about some schematic things. The second period in Milwaukee was not good."
And this won't help the defense or rebounding: Just after getting Ben Simmons back from an ankle sprain, the 76ers may have lost Joel Embiid, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury, coach Brett Brown announced Friday.
"Right now, we're listing it as questionable and we're going to learn a lot more later in the afternoon," Brown told reporters after Friday's practice. "It's just part of the world we live in. It's why you have a team, it's why you have 82 games. It's certainly not ideal. That's why you practice, as much as we can. You learn, you move on."
For the season, Philadelphia ranks 21st in the NBA in opponents' scoring, allowing 116.8 points per game. The opposition is shooting 51 percent against the 76ers this year.
Rather than change things drastically in the midst of a slow start at 2-3, Sixers guard J.J. Redick said the team was thinking long term, rather than short.
"I think maybe there's more small tweaks," Redick said about the defense after Friday's practice. "The goal in the long run of whatever tweaks we've made is to be better for the playoffs. Prepare for that long-term outlook. I think we'll be fine defensively."