After an injury-plagued defeat on Monday evening in Detroit, the Atlanta Hawks returned to action on Wednesday for a road tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers. Once again, Nate McMillan and company entered the night with a shorthanded roster — headlined by the absences of Trae Young, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter — and the team faced a substantial challenge against a top-flight opponent. As such, things did not break in Atlanta’s favor, with the Hawks enduring their most lopsided defeat of the season at 127-83.
The early portion of the game didn’t go well for Atlanta, and things spiraled from there. The Hawks trailed 23-9 after about eight minutes, and they opened with 3-of-11 shooting and four turnovers. In addition, transition defense was a major issue for the Hawks, with Philadelphia scoring 20 of their first 29 points on the fast break.
Atlanta shot just 6-of-20 in the first quarter, scoring only 17 points and trailing by 20 on the scoreboard. Philly put together a 17-4 overall run dating back to the end of the first quarter, taking a 23-point edge early in the second period, and the 76ers were in quite a comfortable position.
By halftime, the Hawks trailed by 28 points, and it was a two-way mess. Philadelphia scored more than 1.4 points per possession in the first 24 minutes, with the Hawks shooting just 33 percent and 1-of-9 from three-point range. Solomon Hill led the way with 11 points, but there were few bright spots for the undermanned visitors.
The Hawks cut the deficit to 23 early in the third quarter, providing a small ray of optimism, but the 76ers quickly responded. Philadelphia used a 9-2 run to take their largest lead of the evening to that point at 78-48, prompting a timeout for Atlanta.
The visitors didn’t let go of the rope entirely, continuing to keep the margin in the same range for most of the third quarter, but a miracle run wasn’t coming. The Hawks trailed by 30 points at the end of the period, shooting 32 percent in the first three quarters.
Given the margin, the fourth quarter was an exercise in playing out the string. Atlanta’s bench was emptied with eight minutes to go, and arguably the biggest fireworks came when Kris Dunn and Trae Young — who was inactive for the game! — were called for technical fouls.
Ultimately, though, the Hawks simply couldn’t overcome the absence of six of their top seven perimeter players. That almost goes without saying, but Atlanta’s injury issues were the overriding story of the night and, against an opponent that would be difficult to topple even in the best of circumstances, the Hawks simply didn’t have enough firepower available to remain competitive.
John Collins enjoyed a productive night, leading the way for the Hawks with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting in 29 minutes. As a team, however, Atlanta shot just 33.8 percent from the floor, posting a season-low 83 points — setting a new mark for scoring futility in two straight games — and losing by a season-most 44 points.
From here, the Hawks will remain in Philadelphia for a rematch against the 76ers on Friday evening. Atlanta will then return home for a back-to-back set against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.