The Hawks were
flat bad horrific on the defensive end in the first quarter. Atlanta allowed Philadelphia to drop 40 points by shooting 72.7% from the field including a perfect 4-for-4 from the three point line in the first quarter. The Hawks were solid offensively scoring 26 points on 55.6% shooting, but their inability to stop the Sixers from scoring left them in a hole they were never able to dig out of.
Evan Turner had a terrific game scoring 24 points (9-of-15 from the field) and grabbing 11 rebounds. Turner got off to a hot start scoring 10 in the first quarter including a pair of threes that seemed to give him energy and confidence that he maintained throughout. Spencer Hawes (19 points and 12 boards) and Thaddeus Young (14 points and 12 boards) each added double-doubles and combined for nine offensive rebounds.
After the first quarter the Sixers shooting regressed back to the mean and the Hawks defense improved, but Atlanta was never able to overcome the deficit to really threaten Philadelphia. After the game, Larry Drew said the team was "soft" and "had no defensive presence" in the first quarter. Drew also said the most disappointing thing was that "[it's] 77 games into the season, and we still don't know our identity." He was very unhappy with the effort of the team, mostly defensively, and said that the team had strayed from the path set in training camp, which was to be a gritty team.
Al Horford called himself out after the game, saying that much of the responsibility lands on him to step up when the team is not playing well. Horford had 18 points and 10 boards, but shot just 8-of-19 from the field and struggled to contain Hawes on the glass.
"We're going through a slump right now as a team. I take some of that blame," said Horford. "I feel like I'm still getting back in rhythm after missing those few games and that affected me. I think it's a matter of getting out of this and starting to play better...Totally, totally [it starts with the defensive end]. We're not putting enough effort and energy out there for whatever reason. We have to get it together, all of us, and it starts with me."
Josh Smith had an efficient night from the field shooting 8-for-13 for 19 points, but he too struggled on the defensive end, especially early with Thaddeus Young. Smith was unable to keep Young off the boards and allowed him to score eight points in the first quarter. Smith agreed with Drew's concerns about the Hawks not playing how they should heading into the playoffs and said they needed to get back to their identity.
"We have to find a way. It's too late in the season to be trying to find what our identity is. We have to figure it out, right now, as of yesterday," said Smith. "I think this team is a transition team, we want to run as much as possible. We have to be scrappy defensively because we have a lot of athletic guys that can fly around. We have to be able to match everybody's physicality."
The Hawks will face one of their toughest tests of the season tomorrow night as they will fly out to San Antonio on a back-to-back to play the Spurs. With the loss the Hawks dropped to 42-35 and slipped a half game behind Chicago for the fifth seed.