The best players for the Philadelphia 76ers have the team on an upward trajectory at an ideal time.
The 76ers might be facing the Charlotte Hornets at a good time as well when the teams meet Friday night at Charlotte, N.C.
The most recent games for both teams came against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Hornets dropped home games to the Cavaliers on Sunday and Tuesday. On Wednesday night, the 76ers rallied to win 118-109 at Cleveland for their sixth consecutive victory.
Joel Embiid racked up 36 points for Philadelphia in that game and James Harden tacked on 28 points.
The visit to Cleveland was the beginning of Philadelphia's stretch of seven road games in a an eight-game span.
"We've really come together over the last couple of weeks, being a team, having each other's back," 76ers forward Georges Niang said. "That showed in the games we've won, especially the close ones. We're going to continue to do that, continue to grow."
76ers coach Doc Rivers said the team can't afford mistakes like the 18 turnovers at Cleveland.
"On the road, you're really fortunate to win games like that," he said.
The Hornets might be without rookie center Mark Williams for the rest of the season after he suffered an injured right thumb last week. Considering his rapid progress since the trade of Mason Plumlee, that's a considerable blow and leaves Charlotte even thinner in the post.
That could be a problem in dealing with Embiid, who already has been big trouble for the Hornets this season.
Charlotte is out of playoff contention and nothing is coming easy.
"We've got 11 games left," Hornets guard Kelly Oubre Jr. said. "Where we want to get to, is unseeable right now. We have to focus our vision on where we want to be."
Perhaps this week's encouraging development for the Hornets is that Oubre returned from a one-game absence and scored 28 points Tuesday night. He skipped a game because of a sore back, but he has been productive when healthy. He has posted 25 or more points in five of his last seven games.
Backcourt mate Terry Rozier received glowing praise from Clifford.
"He was the one who I talked to them about in the locker room," Clifford said of Rozier's determination.
The Hornets have committed 19 turnovers in both of their last two games. But Oubre said the Hornets are best suited to play at a rapid pace.
"We're figuring out our flow on the offensive end, and that's moving the ball and playing with pace," Oubre said. "Keep doing that, limit the turnovers, and I feel like we'll be alright."
Oubre has been Charlotte's leading scorer in the last seven games in which he has played.
The Hornets have lost the first three games of their season-long five-game homestand and five in a row at home overall. Philadelphia has won six of its last seven road games.
The Hornets defeated Philadelphia 107-101 on Nov. 23 at home before the 76ers won by a 131-113 blowout Dec. 11 at home. Embiid put together a 53-point effort in the second meeting.
--Field Level Media