Ten observations from Sixers at Hawks . . .
- For the second time in as many games a superlatively talented young player took it to the Hawks. In Minnesota on Wednesday it was Karl-Anthony Towns going for a franchise-record 56 points. In their return to Philips Arena, the Hawks were victimized by Sixers rookie point guard Ben Simmons’ all-around game. Simmons posted a triple-double: 13 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists. Simmons made it look easy. He played just 26 minutes, leaving the game with 3:37 left in the third quarter and taking the rest of the night off.
- Taurean Prince drew the primary defensive assignment against Simmons, with Isaiah Taylor on J.J. Redick. Prince played Simmons to drive but the rookie is so smooth, big and under control that he still got the shots he wanted or dropped off to teammates for good chances. They weren’t making many of them early but then three Sixers got loose in the third quarter: Redick (11 points, Marco Belinelli (seven) and Dario Saric (six) and Marco Belinelli. Philly extended a six-point halftime lead to 27 entering the fourth.
- The Hawks had no answer, at least not until making a run late in the fourth quarter after the Sixers went on cruise control defensively. The Hawks followed a 14-point second quarter with 18 in the third. No Hawks could hit from the outside (9-for-39 on three-pointers for the game). Isaiah Taylor got to the rim but couldn’t finish over Philadelphia’s bigs. Prince had a good rhythm early before fading. The Hawks earned just 15 free-throw attempts (10 makes).
- With Dennis Schroder out and Josh Magette at Erie, the Hawks had no true point guard behind Taylor. Budenholzer pregame: “Our wings will get a chance. Everybody wants to be a point guard. Maybe we will let the big guys be a point guard for a while. We’ll get through.” Tyler Dorsey ended up being the primary point guard behind Taylor though others took turns.
- Prince created good shots for himself, though he had trouble converting in traffic. Prince also whipped the ball around the perimeter when appropriate. Budenholzer didn’t like Prince’s defensive effort in the second quarter, though. He barked at Prince during a timeout and, when Prince held the ball as he walked to the bench, Budenholzer stared at Prince until he gave it up.
- Center Joel Embiid was out for the Sixers, which theoretically should have made it easier for the Hawks to get to the rim. Sixers coach Brett Brown pregame to reporters: "Defense is my biggest area of concern. His presence defensively cannot be dismissed and so everything’s got to be perfect, or as perfect as we can be defensively." The Hawks created some good paint chances in the first half but didn’t finish well (11-for-26). The Sixers cranked up their defense after halftime and those paint chances dwindled.
- The second quarter was raggedy. The Hawks scored 14 points on 22 shots, the Sixers 17 on 25. The Hawks committed seven turnovers in the period with two apiece by Prince and Lee.
- Rookie Lee was the only Hawks player much offense in the third quarter (10 points on six shots). Lee finished with a career-high 20 points. I’m thinking he’ll have a spot on the Hawks’ summer league team if he wants it.
- Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz was playing his second game since returning from the mysterious shoulder injury that sidelined him for 68 games. The Hawks were content to let him shoot jumpers. Fultz seemed reluctant to do so early but found his groove late while scoring 10 points on eight shots.
- Ersan Ilyasova and Belinelli were back at Philips Arena and it went how it usually did when both were Hawks. Ilyasova was good: 11 points, five rebounds, one assist and one block in seven first-quarter minutes. Belinelli was bad until he was good for that stretch in the third quarter.
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