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Hawks hold on against 76ers despite troubling fourth quarter

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks maintained control against the Philadelphia 76ers for the majority of Friday’s 127-121 victory. However, they faltered towards the end, resulting in a closer outcome than anticipated. While satisfying, the win could have been more convincing, especially considering the absence of key players from the 76ers roster, including Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, and Nicolas Batum.

Onyeka Okongwu showcased a strong performance early in the game, benefiting from a favorable matchup against the 6-foot-9 Paul Reed. He opened the scoring for the Hawks with a hook shot, followed by Jalen Johnson’s coast-to-coast drive, leveraging his physicality for a finger roll layup.

Johnson logged five points, five assists, five rebounds, and a block in the first quarter. His next field goal came from beyond the arc, a three-pointer expertly assisted by Young.

The two teams were playing evenly, making it a 20-19 game in the Hawks’ favor with 4:39 remaining in the quarter. The Hawks then went on a 7-0 run, and would end the quarter on a 17-7 run to secure a 37-26 lead. Young contributed six points and four assists while Okongwu had a game-high 10 points and four rebounds, demonstrating is touch in the paint.

Young exploded for a 12-point second quarter, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. The Hawks ran some great action to get him an open catch and shoot opportunity on the first possession.

Defensively, the Hawks struggled to contain the 76ers’ offensive rebounding, resulting in an excessive number of second-chance points. In the first half, the 76ers boasted an offensive rebound percentage of 45.5, in route to a game-total 31 second-chance points. Additionally, they capitalized on fastbreak opportunities, scoring 17 points compared to the Hawks’ four. Paul Reed was particularly effective, grabbing five offensive rebounds himself.

Despite coming off the bench under a minutes restriction, De’Andre Hunter showcased significant improvement from last season. While not known for his playmaking, Hunter assisted his big men more than once last night.

When his name is called, Bruno Fernando has typically made the most of his minutes. on back to back possessions, he put together some impressive blocks at the rim.

The Hawks, as we often see, used a screener to get an open three-point look for Onyeka Okongwu in the corner. Now shooting 34.9 percent on the season, he was able to knock this one down.

The Hawks largely performed as expected in the first half, showcasing solid defensive efforts that were somewhat dampened by allowing 22 second-chance points. The 76ers managed to go on a 7-0 run before Trae Young interrupted their momentum with a timely three-pointer, closing the half with a score of 73-56 in favor of the Hawks.

In the third quarter, each side put up 30 points. The Hawks managed to limit the 76ers to eight points in the paint, but their opponents capitalized on exceptional shooting, particularly from beyond the arc. Cam Payne and Buddy Hield combined for four made threes, contributing to the 76ers’ seven successful three-pointers on thirteen attempts in the quarter. Meanwhile, the Hawks converted five of their twelve attempts, with Bogdanovic leading the charge by making both of his shots from downtown.

Bogdanovic’s impact was further highlighted when he blocked a shot attempt from Kelly Oubre and swiftly responded with a step-back three-pointer early in the third quarter.

The Hawks extended the lead to as much as 22 at multiple points in the quarter. Late in the quarter, Johnson found a straight path to the rim, and Mo Bamba made a business decision.

The Hawks scratched triple digits, entering the fourth quarter with a 103-86 lead, seemingly in full control of the game.

It was a rough start to the fourth, with the Hawks making just one of their first eight field goal attempts. In this period of time, the 76ers brought it within seven points. Mo Bamba strung together two, but basically three blocks in this span. After the horrific start, three straight buckets from Young give the Hawks a double-digit lead again.

The 76ers brought it within six points with a little over two minutes left, before Jalen Johnson found a free lane to the rim again.

The Hawks led by eight with under a minute left. An intentional foul sent Johnson to the free throw line, and he missed both attempts. Oubre then scored, bringing their deficit back to six. After another intentional foul, Young split his free throws. Paul Reed took a highly unwarranted step back three-pointer, but the Cam Payne grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked to Oubre, who would make it a four point game.

Young would hit both when he went back to the stripe, and the 76ers would score their last points on a meaningless putback with three seconds left. Bey knocked down both of his free throws at the end to secure a 127-121 win.

The start to the fourth quarter proved detrimental in this game, and may have even cost them a win against a fully healthy team. Nonetheless, the Hawks improve their record to 23-29 on the season.

Trae Young finished with 37 points and 12 assists, placing him fifth all-time in games with at least 30 points and 10 assists with 77. Okongwu scored 21 points to go with eight rebounds, two blocks, and a steal. Bey scored 18 and had 11 rebounds, while Johnson finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks.

After the game, Quin Snyder complimented Saddiq Bey, calling him a warrior, and further explaining that’s the best compliment he could give someone. He said guys may have been tired in the second half, but conditioning is not something you can work on during the season.

Trae Young was asked about carrying a lot of the load for this Hawks’ team following Friday’s win.

I mean, I’ve been playing like this for my whole career, like, even since high school and college, like, I feel, felt comfortable with a lot of my shoulders and, I mean, even just with anything, I had seven turnovers and that’s too much and there’s times that I can be better too. So I mean, but I do know that sometimes that I need to do more for my team and I can do a lot for my team. So I try to do that for myself.

The Hawks will be back in action tonight, facing the Houston Rockets at home.