The Atlanta Hawks were supposed to take care of business with a breezy win on Saturday evening. In short, they did just that. After a slow start, the Hawks awakened nicely and they were able to secure a fourth consecutive victory in downing the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 117-96.
On a night such as this, sleepwalking is always the fear and, in the early going, the Hawks did just that. The team committed six turnovers in the first seven minutes of play and that placed Atlanta in a 15-12 deficit despite strong shooting numbers. In total, the Hawks gave the ball away on nine occasions before the end of the quarter, and Philly took advantage to the tune of a 27-23 lead.
The second quarter was (much) kinder to the home team, though, and that directly coincided with increased ball security. The Hawks opened the second period on a 14-2 run that was punctuated by a three-point play from Malcolm Delaney, and that gave Atlanta a 37-29 lead. The rest of the quarter transpired in back and forth fashion, but that spurt was enough to key the Hawks in accumulating a double-digit halftime lead at 59-48.
Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 11 points each prior to the break, and Atlanta shot 54% from the floor and 42% from three to overcome the early turnover issues. However, the Sixers weren’t ready to go away entirely, and Philly came out of the gate swinging with an 11-2 run to bring the margin to two to begin the third quarter.
Atlanta would (quickly) respond, however, putting together an 11-3 spurt to reclaim a double-digit lead. On the negative side, Tim Hardaway Jr. left the game with a hip contusion (though he did return), but the on-court product did improve team-wide in conjunction with Philadelphia’s struggles as the third quarter moved toward the fourth.
In the closing period, the Hawks maintained a comfortable lead, opening things up for an appearance from both Taurean Prince and DeAndre Bembry down the stretch. Philadelphia was never able to mount a real charge and, frankly, the difference between the two teams in terms of talent and execution was painfully evident.
This was a very balanced and efficient performance from the Hawks and that was displayed in the box score. Dennis Schröder had a productive night with 16 points and eight assists, while Dwight Howard added a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Elsewhere, Tim Hardaway Jr. performed well (20 points, 5-10 from 3) off the bench and Kris Humphries (13 points, 9 rebounds) put forth arguably his best game of the young season.
After two (more) days off, the Hawks will travel to Miami to take on the Heat on Tuesday night and, when they arrive, Atlanta will be holding on to a four-game winning streak. Things are going well.