Sixers-Hawks observations: Overcoming blown lead for 1st home win

Sixers-Hawks observations: Overcoming blown lead for 1st home win


There was one team that gave up an early 17-point lead and another one that scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter. 

The Sixers were the ones to bounce back while the Hawks blundered down the stretch in a 119-109 win on Wednesday. 

Joel Embiid reached the 30-minute mark for the first time in his career as he carried the Sixers down the stretch with 11 points and five boards in the fourth quarter.

The Sixers improved to 4-4 with their first home victory of the season, while the Hawks fell to 1-7. The Sixers also continued to snap long losing streaks against opponents, like they did in Houston. The Sixers had dropped the previous seven games to the Hawks and had not beaten them since March 7, 2015.

• This was going to be a blowout, right? Not so fast. The Sixers jumped out to a 25-8 lead with 5:20 to play in the first quarter. The Hawks outscored them 17-9 in the period after that. The Sixers still had a nine-point advantage after the quarter, powered by eight points from Robert Covington (who ended up with 22 points) and 6 for 7 three-point shooting as a team.

• The Hawks’ game plan between quarters worked. They went on an 11-2 run to tie it up, 57-57, off six points from Dennis Schroder (he scored a game-high 25). The Sixers led by two, 59-57, at the end of the second quarter. Only Covington (2 for 2) and Embiid (0 for 2) attempted free throws for the Sixers in the half.

• The third quarter was evenly matched. Ben Simmons and Schroder dropped 10 points apiece as the teams were tied 93-93 after the third. The Sixers were more aggressive getting to the line (10 for 16), but gave up nine points off five turnovers.  

• The Sixers were cool and collected in the fourth. For the second straight game, they made that takeover time. The Sixers outscored the Hawks 26-16 in the frame. The Hawks went cold as they shot 5 for 20 from the field. 

• Embiid had his hands all over the court. With 21 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks, he affected this game in more ways than a typical true center (see highlights)

• Simmons was just one assist short of a triple-double: 19 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. 

Since Simmons has started taking more jumpers, let’s track them here with the #SimmonsShotWatch. He kicked off the game with a 16-foot jump shot. After that, he didn’t attempt another shot beyond 11 feet (excluding an 86-foot toss at the end of the first quarter). But really, that doesn’t matter when he’s making moves like this:

• The Sixers went with a new starting lineup against the Hawks. JJ Redick returned after missing two games because of lower-back tightness. He joined Simmons, Covington, Embiid and … Dario Saric. 

That change moved Jerryd Bayless to the bench. It accomplished two factors: helped Saric continue to get a rhythm as he is clearly the most comfortable as a starter and added an offensive boost to the second unit in Bayless. Brown reiterated the starting five will be fluid this season and he’s more concerned with which players end the game.

• Redick wasn’t back to his sharpshooting form yet. He was 3 of 11 from the field, including 0 for 6 in the third, and 1 for 6 from three overall. Redick hit his first trey with less than three minutes to play. He entered the game shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from long range. Still, he logged 32 minutes.

• Jahlil Okafor stayed engaged with the Sixers after stating earlier in the day he would like a buyout or a trade (see story). Okafor was up on his feet to high five teammates during timeouts and between quarters. 

• Injury updates: Covington suffered a knee right hyperflexion in the second half and returned. Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness, muscle imbalance) and Richaun Holmes (left wrist fracture) remained out. 

Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney suffered a sprained right ankle and did not return. He scored eight points in nine minutes off the bench. St. Joe’s product DeAndre’ Bembry (fractured right wrist), former Sixer Ersan Ilyasova (left knee bone bruise) and Miles Plumlee (strained right quad) did not play for the Hawks. 

• Fly, Eagles, fly. Eagles offensive linemen Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks rang the ceremonial bell. Former wide receiver Freddie Mitchell was also at the game. Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert helped out with the T-shirt toss, too. 

Raptors continue to take care of business at home

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Raptors continue to take care of business at home

TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan added 21 and the Toronto Raptors beat San Antonio 86-83 on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak against the Spurs.

Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Raptors improved to 17-3 at home, the second-best home record in the NBA behind San Antonio's mark of 19-2.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Pau Gasol scored 15 points and Patty Mills had 13 as San Antonio lost for the fourth time in six road games. The Spurs are 11-15 away from home.

It had been more than two years since Toronto last beat San Antonio. The Raptors won 97-94 at home on Dec. 9, 2015.

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili missed his second straight game because of a sore right thigh. Ginobili returned to Texas after the Spurs won at Brooklyn on Wednesday (see full recap).

Beal, Oubre spark Wizards’ win over Pistons
DETROIT -- Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 26 points each, and the Washington Wizards scored 45 points in the third quarter before holding on for a 122-112 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

The Pistons cut a 20-point second-half deficit to four in the fourth quarter, but John Wall made a big 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 107-100. Oubre added a four-point play a few possessions later to push Washington's lead to nine.

Andre Drummond had 14 points, 21 rebounds and eight assists for the Pistons, who have lost four straight.

Both teams were struggling coming into the game. The Wizards lost by 24 at Charlotte on Wednesday, and they fell behind by 15 in the first quarter at Detroit. It was tied at 46 at halftime, though (see full recap).

Nets edge Heat to snap 5-game home skid
NEW YORK -- DeMarre Carroll scored 26 points, Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Miami Heat 101-95 on Friday night.

Brooklyn snapped a five-game losing skid at Barclays Center and a seven-game home losing streak to the Heat.

Caris LeVert and Joe Harris each added 12 points for the Nets. D'Angelo Russell played 14 minutes and went 0-for-5 from the field for Brooklyn in his first action after missing 32 games following left knee surgery.

Hassan Whiteside had 21 points and 13 rebounds, and Goran Dragic scored 17 points for the Heat.

LeVert made an acrobatic layup to give the Nets a 95-91 lead with 57.8 seconds remaining and then made a step-back jumper to ice the game at 97-91 (see full recap).

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

Is a rival upset with Embiid's ASG starter nod?

While Joel Embiid was sharing his first All-Star nod with his teammates and deciding to move on from his former crush, at least one person wasn’t happy that the Sixers’ center was tabbed as a starter.

Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis feels like he should have garnered that final frontcourt spot in the Eastern Conference.

“Players know,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

True, Porzingis had more of the players’ support as he finished third in the East in that category compared to Embiid in fourth. 

However, Embiid had the trump card with a pair of third-place finishes in both media and fan voting while Porzingis came in fourth. The fan vote was the main key, as it accounted for 50 percent of the overall tally.

“I feel very blessed to be in this type of position,” Embiid said Thursday. “Thank all the fans out there for the support. It’s been a tough couple of years and I really appreciate it — everybody out there, everybody around me, the whole team, the whole organization, the fans especially, for making this happen. We can only get better from here.”

If Embiid is going to get even better, look out. He’s already averaging 23.9 points (48.7 percent shooting), 11.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Oh yeah, he also has the Sixers with a 21-20 record and sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Porzingis’ overall numbers have gone down every month this season. He’s currently putting up 23.6 points (43.4 percent shooting), 6.9 boards, 1.2 assists and 2.4 blocks a night. And the Knicks have lost 11 of their last 15 games to fall to 20-25.

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Porzingis said. “Fans are one thing. It is what it is. There are a lot of things I could have done better also. It is what it is.”