The Philadelphia 76ers knew it was going to be a tougher night than usual with All-Star centre Joel Embiid resting on the first half of their back-to-back.
The Charlotte Hornets gave them all they could handle, but Philly edged out a win 118-114 to diminish the Hornets' playoff hopes.
It required a lot of energy from the 76ers' starting unit, who scored all but 14 of their teams' points. Ben Simmons led the way with 28 points, eight boards and five assists but it was J.J. Redick's first half scoring outburst that gave this team the life they needed.
Redick scored 21 of his 27 points in the first half on five-of-eight shooting from the perimeter.
Jimmy Butler scored 23 on the night including a clutch 3-pointer to take a three-point lead late in the game.
Déjà vu@jimmybutler | #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/Gy8eIGuQn1- * - Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 20, 2019
All 14 points off the bench were scored by James Ennis who like Butler, knocked down a huge 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining to seemingly put the nail in the coffin for the Hornets.
JAM3S 3NNIS 😳 pic.twitter.com/TULCHYK4kv- * - Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 20, 2019
With eight seconds on the clock the Hornets had the chance to tie the game. Jeremy Lamb attacked the basket and got a good look with an open runner in the lane but the shot didn't fall as the 76ers prevailed.
After the game, Sixers' head coach Brett Brown addressed the workload of the starting unit tonight, "As the game was unfolding I was thinking two things: we're here to win, and we're here to win."
Brown continued, "I do look at the minutes and I wished I hadn't played (the four usual starters) as many minutes but we won so I'll lean on that as, I hope, the correct decision."
The win puts the 76ers comfortably in third place in the Eastern Conference with two games on the Indiana Pacers and three games on the Boston Celtics ahead of their matchup tomorrow night.
The loss was detrimental to the Hornets' already waining playoff hopes as FiveThiryEight's playoff prediction model now gives them a slim 7% chance of reaching the postseason.
They find themselves 3.0 games back from the No. 8 seed Miami Heat with just 12 games remaining in the season. They aren't eliminated yet, but it's going to take a big momentum swing for Charlotte to continue playing after game 82.