The Philadelphia 76ers solidified their grip on the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. On the other hand, the Charlotte Hornets remain in the hunt for the last playoff spot in the East after a blowout victory on Wednesday night.
The 76ers are still on pace to get homecourt advantage in the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs after scoring a 118-98 win over the lowly Orlando Magic. It was their fifth consecutive victory and their third straight with a winning margin of at least 14 points.
Joel Embiid finished with 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal in just 20 minutes of playing time. Ersan Ilyasova added 18 points off the bench, while Robert Covington and JJ Redick tallied 15 and 12 points for the 76ers, respectively.
Dario Saric had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Rookie point guard Ben Simmons scored just six points on three-for-four shooting, but the 21-year-old, who is one of the top candidates for the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year award, tallied 11 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and a block.
With the win, the 76ers improved to 41-30 with 11 games left in the regular season. They are just one game behind the third-running Cleveland Cavaliers (42-29) but are just half a game ahead of the fifth-running Indiana Pacers (41-31). The Washington Wizards occupy the sixth spot in the East with their 40-31 card.
Meanwhile, Charlotte kept their slim playoff chances alive after scoring their second consecutive win. The Hornets cruised to a 61-point victory, 140-79, against the cellar-dwelling Memphis Grizzlies at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Kemba Walker sizzled with 46 points in 28 minutes of playing time. The two-time All-Star shot 13-for-18 from the field, including a 10-for-14 clip from beyond the arc. He also added 12 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks to lead the Hornets to the lopsided win.
Marvin Williams and Dwayne Bacon finished with 15 points apiece, while Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Willy Hernangomez also had a big night, finishing with a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action on the court.
With the victory, which was the sixth-most lopsided win in NBA history, Charlotte improved to 32-41. They are still six games behind the Milwaukee Bucks, who are currently eighth in the East standings with a 37-34 card. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics are on top of the conference with their 53-19 and 48-23 records, respectively. The updated NBA standings are available on the league’s official website.