The Atlanta Hawks won their second consecutive game after they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 99-92 at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night. The Sixers were led by Richaun Holmes’ 25 points while ‘The Homie’ Dario Sarić added 15 points. For the Hawks, they were led by Dwight Howard’s third 20-20 game of the season (22 points and 20 rebounds) while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 points.
The Hawks remain in control of the 5-seed, tied with the Milwaukee Bucks after the Bucks picked up a big-time win against the Boston Celtics in Boston. Behind them, the Indiana Pacers fell to the 8-seed after they were well beaten in Memphis against the Grizzlies while the Miami Heat moved into 7-seed with a road win in New York and sit just 2.5 games adrift of the 5-seed.
Just seven games remain for the Hawks.
Dwight coming up big
Dwight Howard (who has played pretty well in the absence of Paul Millsap, it must be said) had one of his better games of late as he produced his third 20-20 game of the season. His presence and strength in the paint caused a nuisance and the Sixers had issues securing rebounds when Dwight was present — eight offensive rebounds for Dwight in this game. Dwight also saw some success on the offensive end against Richaun Holmes, who — at times — struggled to contain Dwight’s sheer strength.
“He is very physical, especially going to offensive boards, his game is predicated on physicality and he was very physical tonight and he is an imposing presence and I just tried to do the best I could against him.”
— Richaun Holmes
Added to this, Dwight even hit two jumpshots.
Blessed to be back helping Dwight Howard again 2weeks ago.. tonight having 22pts 20rebs. We've been aggressive this week. It's paying off🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/jk1fHYVpN1
— Lethal Shooter (@LethalShooter__) March 30, 2017
“It’s something I know I can do. It’s just me doing it and getting those opportunities to do it. It’s something I work on every single day.”
— Dwight Howard
That’s when you know Dwight Howard is having a solid offensive night. That, and he went 6-for-7 at the free throw line. Good work by Dwight last night, again, he has been very solid these past two weeks and that’s exactly what the Hawks have needed.
“Obviously, Dwight Howard was dominant rebounding, scoring, making free throws. He just did a lot of things really, really well and carried us.”
— Coach Mike Budenholzer
The return of Baze
Kent Bazemore made his return to the court off the bench having missed the last five games with a knee injury that he suffered against the Portland Trail Blazers. Weirdly, Baze looked better coming off the injury than he did before he sustained it as he lit the Sixers for 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from behind the arc in just under 20 minutes of play.
Even Baze knew he had a great game:
“It helps that I’m easing my way back into things. Less is more right now for me. Making the simple play. Shoot when you are open. Take what the defense gives you. I try that all the time but tonight was pretty much flawless on my behalf. It’s good to be back.”
— Kent Bazemore
It’s great to see Baze back out there on the court, the Hawks have desperately needed him back and, hopefully, he’ll be ready to rumble for this final run into the playoffs.
Sadly for the Hawks, it’s one player in and one player out. Mike Dunleavy was unable to take part in this game to right ankle soreness. Dunleavy missed 12 games due to right ankle synovitis, so it seems that injury is lingering slightly and the Hawks took the right course of action by sitting him out of this game.
Dennis’ poor turnover game
Not the greatest night for Dennis Schröder, once again. Schröder scored 14 points (12 of those coming in the second half) on 6-of-16 shooting from the field but, again, taking care of the ball was the issue here — another nine turnovers and nine out if the team’s total 17 turnovers. In his last five games, Dennis has totalled 34 turnovers. That’s just way too many, no matter how much the ball is in your hands.
Thankfully for the Hawks, Dennis’ turnovers nor their own were punished as much as they should’ve been. The Sixers only scored 13 points off of the Hawks’ 17 turnovers, a lucky escape for sure.
Free throw differential
One of the big keys to this game was the free throw differential. The Hawks shot 22-of-26 from the free throw line while the Sixers attempted just 11 free throws, making nine of them. Dwight Howard, like we’ve mentioned, made 6-of-7 from the free throw line while THJ and Taurean Prince both attempted four free throws.
The Hawks have struggled when it comes to free throws this season (28th in free throw percentage) but did a solid job on Wednesday night, particularly Dwight Howard whose struggled are, obviously, well documented.
The Hawks (39-36) continue their three game road trip in the Windy City on Saturday afternoon in a matchup against the Chicago Bulls, who still have a lot to play for, just 1.5 games behind the Pacers and the Heat for the 7 and 8-seeds.