The Sixers on Thursday began a four-game road swing that includes trips to Boston, Miami and Milwaukee.
Unfortunately, they forgot to show up for the first stop in Atlanta.
All-Star Trae Young had a night as the Sixers looked sleepy in a 127-117 loss to the Hawks at State Farm Arena Thursday.
They were down two starters in Al Horford and Josh Richardson, but their struggles away from the Wells Fargo Center continued. The loss drops them to 9-16 on the road and 31-18 overall. They’ll travel to Boston for a date with the Celtics Saturday (8:30 p.m./ABC)
Here are observations from the loss:
Young has his way
Theoretically, Young could’ve had a better first half, but it’s hard to imagine how. He had 10 assists in the first quarter alone. He got to the free throw line 16 times and poured in 29 points before the half. The Sixers struggled mightily to handle the pick-and-roll.
Rookie Matisse Thybulle, who did decently against Young in the first matchup back in October, played just five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. Brett Brown tried to even go to a zone at one point, but that strategy seemed doomed from the start.
Young’s scoring onslaught let up a little in the second half, but he continued to carve up the Sixers’ defense and create for others. He finished with 39 points (18 of 20 from the line) and 18 assists.
Simmons looking like an All-Star
There wasn’t a whole lot more you could ask from Ben Simmons on the night he learned he would be making his second All-Star appearance.
As head coach Lloyd Pierce has done in previous matchups, Simmons was given a ton of space. Contrary to years past, Simmons was aggressive getting to the lane and attacking the rim. He had a team-high 31 points (10 of 15), six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
An impressive development in Simmons’ game recently is the way he’s not only gotten to the line but made them. In his last four games coming in, he was 30 of 39. On Thursday, he was 11 of 13. The work he's put into his shot is showing up at the line.
Nice boost from Shake
With the Sixers struggling, Shake Milton erupted late in the first half. He scored 11 of his 16 points (his career high was 13 coming in) in the final 1:16 of the second quarter. He was 3 of 4 from three and also got to the line (5 of 6).
On a night with few bright spots, Milton was certainly one. He wound up scoring 27 points (5 of 9 from three) with six assists and five rebounds. It’s impressive the way Milton has stepped into the starting lineup and not looked out of place. It'll be interesting to see if he can carve out minutes when Richardson returns.
Strange night for Jo
It was a weird night for Embiid. He was sharp in his return Tuesday against the Warriors but looked off on Thursday night.
There was one play to close the third quarter that kind of encompassed his night. He finished off an alley-oop on one end, which got the Sixers within five. On the ensuing possession, the Sixers got a stop, but Embiid gave up on the play and didn’t block out Damian Jones. Jones got an easy put-back, which seemed deflating.
Embiid had 21 points and 14 rebound, but was 2 of 7 from the line and didn't appear ready to play at the pace Young was playing. In his defense, it was just his second game back after a nine-game absence.
Bizarre way to end a half
Young got what appeared to be a favorable call at the end of the first half. With time winding down, Young threw up a desperation heave while he was wedged between Embiid and Tobias Harris. It sure looked like Young leaned into Harris, but Harris was whistled for the foul with 0.5 seconds left.
Harris was called for a technical foul. Then, as Young took a free throw for Harris’ technical, Brown asked to challenge the play. The Sixers were denied that challenge as the officials said the request came in too late. Brown was then called for a technical. All told, Young got five free throws — two from the technicals, three from the initial foul call — which turned a two-point halftime deficit to seven.
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