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.