The Atlanta Hawks moved to a season-best eight games over .500 Saturday night dispatching the Philadelphia 76ers 110-93. Atlanta has won 12 out of 14 and is keeping the pressure on the upper half of the Eastern Conference.
During that stretch, Atlanta hasn’t faced a lot of opponents with a better than .500 record but they deserve credit for taking care of business in games that they should win particularly at home. Philadelphia came into Saturday’s game playing well but was without their best player in Joel Embiid.
“I thnk this was a good win for us against a team that you guys can see how well they’re playing, how they’re executing on both ends of the court,” Mike Budenholzer said after the win. “They’re really giving people problems, so I think between last night and tonight, a lot of good basketball for us.”
The first half was tightly contested with Paul Millsap putting Atlanta up 62-54 at the intermission with a jump shot at the buzzer. The Hawks clamped down in the second, pushing the lead to as many as 18 points while holding the Sixers to just 39 second-half points.
“Second half, holding them to 39 points, we just keep harping, keep pounding on our defense,” Budenholzer added. “ I think the offense was finding a place a lot of the night. I wish we could maybe maintain a lead and not let it slip away. But that’s how a lot of these games work. Our group was able to pull it back together and bring it home. It’s just two good nights of basketball.”
Paul Millsap led the way with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kent Bazemore pitched in 16 while Dennis Schröder added 15 points and nine assists.
“I think we pushed the pace on the offensive end and the defensive end, we had active hands and created turnovers,” Schröder said. We got out on the fast-break and shot the ball.”
Schröder finished the game with just one turnover. Atlanta had just 14 for the game but the Sixers converted those into just four points.
“Every game we want to have the fewest turnovers we can,” Schröder said. Tonight, especially, against Philly, they are aggressive too on the defensive end. It was important to protect the ball.”
Dwight Howard had a big game at the rim and on the boards as well finishing with 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
“We did a good job of holding them to one shot,” Howard said. Philly’s a tough team. They play really hard. They play aggressive. They play good team basketball. They share the ball and they find the open man. They have a good group of young guys. It wasn’t as easy as people expect out of the recent Philly teams. You have to respect them. They played great basketball.”
Atlanta will wrap up a three-game home stand on Monday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I think we have a lot of room to grow,” Howard said. “I love the direction we’re headed in. I think we’re playing great team basketball. Our defense can be better, can be a little bit sharper. But overall, I think we’ve done an excellent job as a team of just staying focused and staying locked in on what our goal is.”