The Atlanta Hawks saw their four-game winning streak snapped Friday night at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers 90-76. Atlanta built a 47-39 lead at halftime before falling into some old habits in the second half to help ignite a Sixers charge.
The Hawks got downright defensive in the first half thanks in part to some stingy defense by Jeff Teague on Philadelphia point guard Jrue Holiday and the Sixers inability to take or make good shots. Philly came into the game as the No. 3 scoring team in the league and Atlanta held them to just 39 points in the first half on 34 percent shooting.
Philadelphia flipped the script in the second half outscoring the Hawks 25-10 in the third quarter and cruising home to victory. Atlanta scored just 29 points in the second half as Philly tightened the defensive screws. The Hawks didn't help matters by failing to find any offensive rhythm going to the basket and ended up settling for long contested jump shots. That would have been ok had those shots gone in but they missed and it led to many run out opportunities for an athletic Sixers club. Jodie Meeks hit three of four three point attempts in the third quarter to help Philadelphia take control.
For the Hawks, Willie Green was just about the lone bright spot offensively when the smoke cleared finishing with 14 points on 6-7 shooting. Jeff Teague finished with 12 points, six assists and five steals but did most of his damage in the first half. Josh Smith and Tracy McGrady finished with 10 points.
Thaddeus Young led the Sixers with 20 points off the bench in just 22 minutes. Jrue Holiday added 16 points and 11 assists while Jodie Meeks hit four three-pointers for 12 points.
After the game, Larry Drew was not pleased with his team's performance in the second half. A unusually candid Drew had this to say post-game:
"It got tough for us in the third quarter and we quit. That's what happened."
"I am hoping it's out of character," Drew said. "I saw a pattern with it last year and I thought we had turned the corner with it this year. Not the fact that we lost the game, but the fact that it got tough for us and we did not respond. You could see it in our faces and see it in our body language."
"Teams are going to make runs," Drew said. "It's how you respond to runs. You either man up or you fold the tent. Tonight we certainly folded the tent in that third quarter. What's disappointing is we talked about when a team makes a run, you play through it. You don't hang your heads and feel sorry for yourself, you don't start crying to officials. You have to respond by toughening up defensively, executing your stuff even harder. I've seen us do it before. Tonight we didn't do it."
That is a pretty stiff tongue lashing from a coach that doesn't usually adhere to such tactics. Drew appeared to be most upset with the Hawks defensive effort once things started going south in the third quarter. It will be interesting to see how the team responds on Saturday against the Cavs.