Hawks split early-season series against Sixers

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Hawks lost to the 76ers 121-109 Saturday night in Philadelphia. It was a rematch of Thursday night’s game at State Farm Arena, which the Hawks won by nine.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks just could not hit their shots in the first quarter Saturday, making just eight of their 22 attempts from the floor in the first quarter. They made just one of their six attempts from long range as the Sixers powered their way into the paint in the first.

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Though the Hawks had a spark of scoring from Trae Young, who ended the night with a team-high 27 points and 11 assists, it wasn’t enough to erase the 14-point lead that the Sixers built by the end of the first quarter.

The Hawks eventually found a rhythm and clawed back into the action but their cold shooting did not help them early in the matchup.

“We just gotta get good looks,” Young said. “I think we’re still gonna get those, but you got to be aggressive when you catch the ball and just be ready to shoot. I think there’s a lot of times that I mean, we have guys that are open and catch the ball, and sometimes they may travel or try to get to the basket and rush. I think guys have good looks that should shoot it. And I mean, it’s all gonna come. We’re still early in the season. We got a long way to go. But I think we can learn from this game for sure.”

2. AJ Griffin checked into Saturday’s game in the fourth quarter and knocked down a 3-pointer. He gave the Hawks plenty of energy on both ends of the floor as he forced the Sixers’ defense to respect his game.

Despite going 0-of-3 on his next touches, Griffin did not let it slow him as he got ahead of the pack and Young pushed the ball ahead to him. Griffin slammed down a one-handed dunk along the baseline over Joel Embiid.

The dunk seemed to spark some energy into the Hawks.

“AJ has been playing great,” Young said. “Every time he gets in, it’s like, you know a three is about to go in, or he’s about to make a play somewhere. So, it’s great that he’s been playing well. We need him to keep going for us. And he has a long career ahead of him. So he just needs to keep going. Like I’ve been telling him not to get too high or too low. And he’s just been level headed and always asking questions, and he’s just he’s gonna be really special for us. So I’m happy for him.”

3. The Hawks went into Saturday night as one of the teams in the league with the fewest turnovers. Against the Sixers on the road, though, the Hawks struggled to take care of the ball.

Their lack of ball security hurt them early, with the team giving up 11 points off of five turnovers early in the game. The Sixers continued to hound the Hawks throughout the night.

The Hawks gave up 34 points off of 19 turnovers, a season high.

“I think we just put ourselves in a hole to start the game off,” Hawks guard Dejounte Murray said. “We weren’t ready to compete. And obviously, they had a chip on their shoulder from losing at our home, and they came out with a fire and they just kept going and kept going and I don’t think they really let up. Even when they let us back in the game a little bit, they still were coming. So I think just putting ourselves in a hole in the beginning really dictated where the game was going.”

4. Like Young, Murray shouldered the Hawks’ offense and helped make a couple of key pushes. Both Murray, who scored 21 points, and Young helped to engineer the team’s comeback toward the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth.

Young found Griffin and Clint Capela for several key plays that took advantage of the Sixers’ fatigue. Murray attacked the paint and knocked down several jump shots that brought the Hawks within single digits.

The Hawks trailed the Sixers by as much as 27 points midway through the third. Like many nights before, their inconsistency hurt them.

“I think one thing about us, we’ve got to get consistent for what we’re doing,” Murray said. “But we’re pretty good at bouncing back. You know, we lose games, whether it’s (the) fought-to-the-end type game or a game we just lost, and they were the better team at the end of the day, but I think we got a good sense of bouncing back. So we just got to continue to stick together. That’s like the biggest thing in the NBA, (is) if you stick together through wins and losses and allow yourself to be ready for the next game.”

5. The Hawks will need more from their supporting players if they want to avoid the losses racking up. The Hawks’ bench scored just 24 points on Saturday and ranks 26th in the league in points per game.

76ers 121, Hawks 109

Stat to know

With his sixth rebound Saturday, Dejounte Murray reached 2,000 for his career.

Quotable

“They changed a lot of defensive schemes from last game. The offensive things we tried last game didn’t necessarily work tonight. We got to do a better job at making reads and switching things up throughout the game and make it more difficult for them to guard us. — Trae Young on what the Sixers did differently on Saturday compared to Thursday

Up next

The Hawks face the Bucks for the third time this season Monday in Milwaukee.