The Atlanta Hawks did not play their “A” game on Saturday evening but, against the Philadelphia 76ers, the team’s best was not fully required. The home team was never seriously threatened and, in the end, it was a 110-93 victory to secure a spotless weekend.
In an apparent carry-over from Friday’s late collapse, the Hawks got off to something of a slow start. Philadelphia held an 18-12 lead in the early going on the strength of 7 of 11 from the floor, and the Hawks needed a 7-0 spurt at the end of the first quarter to climb into a 25-25 tie.
Then, the Sixers scored the first five points of the second quarter, before order was restored. Tim Hardaway Jr. knocked down back-to-back threes to provide Atlanta with the lead, and the offense awakened for the remainder of the first half.
The punctuation mark came in the form of a Paul Millsap bucket at the halftime buzzer, capping an 8-2 run that installed the Hawks with a 62-54 lead. Millsap and Kent Bazemore led the way with 11 points each and Atlanta scorched offensively to the tune of 57 percent shooting and 120.7 points per 100 possesssions in the half.
The third quarter was, largely, business as usual from the lion’s share of the first half. The Hawks built the lead to as many as 18 points in the latter stages of the period, though the Sixers were able to climb back to within 13 at the conclusion.
Unfortunately, Atlanta was not able to pull away, at least immediately. In fact, the Sixers were within a seven-point margin (94-87) with less than seven minutes remaining. In short order, Kent Bazemore, Dennis Schröder and Dwight Howard combined for a mini-spurt to push the cushion back to 13 points and it was, effectively, lights out.
The final margin was relatively indicative of the difference between the two teams and the Hawks did enough to win. Paul Millsap (22 points, 10 rebounds), Dwight Howard (13 points, 15 rebounds) and Dennis Schröder (15 points, 9 assists) put together solid outings, with Kent Bazemore (16 points on 7 of 12 shooting) providing a solid performance. Also, both Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 points, 6 assists) and Malcolm Delaney (13 points, 6 of 9 shooting) contributed positively off the bench and Atlanta’s defense held Philly’s offense to only 92.5 points per 100 possessions in the game.
Atlanta will, mercifully, enjoy a day off on Sunday before hosting a third game in four days. On Monday, the Los Angeles Clippers arrive for a date at Philips Arena and the home team will have a chance to build a three-game winning streak at that point. Stay tuned.