About that guarantee: the Philadelphia 76ers were more than aware of what Nic Batum said Saturday, and rather perturbed about it.
Former Charlotte Bobcat Gerald Henderson made sure of that, texting all his Sixers teammates Monday morning. That was after Henderson read what Batum said – that the Hornets would win Monday and, in response to a question by the Observer’s Scott Fowler, that was a guarantee.
Looks like the guarantee backfired. The Sixers looked plenty motivated, outrebounding the Hornets 51-33 during a six-point victory at the Spectrum Center.
In essence, the message the Sixers sent back was that the Hornets, at 24-31, aren’t good enough to look down on a team only three games further back in the Eastern Conference standings.
“It’s not the first guarantee that has ever been issued, but I thought it was something some guys on our team would look at and use in the game,” said Henderson, who was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers two summers ago in the deal that acquired Batum.
Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell was more blunt in describing the effect Batum’s remark had on this game.
“I know (Batum) has a lot of confidence in his team. I’m not calling anyone out, but I think it’s a little absurd to guarantee a win,” McConnell said.
“And if you do, you should just back it up. I’m not taking a shot at anyone, but it’s disrespectful toward our team and we responded well today.”
This is the second time this season the Sixers have beaten the Hornets. They are improving rapidly, even with center Joel Embiid back in Philadelphia with a sore knee. Henderson, who signed with his hometown team during the summer, takes satisfaction in changing perception.
“We think about ourselves very differently than most people do,” Henderson said. “We feel like we should have even more wins. We’ve come together over the last couple of months. We feel like we’re doing OK.”
You can surmise just the opposite about the Hornets, who have lost 10 of their past 11. Things get rougher after this, with seven consecutive road games (they are just 8-18 away from the Spectrum Center).
Hornets coach Steve Clifford had plenty to say after the game about how this team isn’t improving collectively, as his previous teams here did. It’s not physical enough and it isn’t competing or holding each other to the standard Clifford expects.
He wasn’t passing off the blame, by the way. He repeatedly said fixing this starts with the head coach.
As to the guarantee, Batum seemed surprised it was such a topic of discussion.
“You know, I’ve done that two or three times this year. It worked three times. Not this time,” he said.
“No. Why should I regret?” Batum replied.
“Sometimes I think you have to go through (bad times). I understand fans are mad about it and mad about me. The only thing I can do is keep practicing and stick with these guys.”
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Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, email@example.com, @rick_bonnell
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