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Halftime Report: Hawks trail 76ers 51-45

The Hawks have been led by Josh Smith, with 13 points and five rebounds, as well as Zaza Pachulia off the bench with nine points and seven rebounds in the first half, but trail the Sixers 51-45 who have followed Thaddeus Young, 10 points, and Evan Turner, nine points, to the first half lead.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks trail the 76ers 51-45 and that deficit can be directly attributed to eight Hawks turnovers that have led to 13 Sixers points. Philadelphia has just five turnovers, which have led to seven Atlanta points, and that six point difference in points off turnovers is the difference in the game. The Sixers have not been a particularly good shooting team this season, but are shooting 53.7% from the field including a sizzling 5-of-8 (62.5%) from behind the three-point line. Atlanta is shooting just 4-of-11 (36.4%) from behind the arc, while shooting 44.2% from the field. The Hawks sloppy ball-handling has led to some of those easy transition looks, but a continuing concern for Atlanta is defensive rotations.

Atlanta has not covered out well on weakside shooters in the last few games, which has continued in this contest and has helped the Sixers knock down open jump shots. Atlanta is out-rebounding the Sixers 23-19 and have 12 first half assists on their 19 made baskets, both good numbers. The Hawks have rimmed out a number of layups at the basket and continue to struggle to convert easy looks.

The Hawks will have to keep plugging away offensively and move the ball if they are going to crawl back into this one, but it is the defense that really needs to tighten up. Atlanta must be quicker in their rotations on shooters to close out and contest outside looks, and they need to limit the turnovers and force Philadelphia to create from within their offense.