Trae Young returns, but shorthanded Hawks no match for Sixers

Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, left, tries to get past Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 30, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young, left, tries to get past Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 30, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Credit: Matt Slocum

Credit: Matt Slocum

Trae Young returned from injury, but the Hawks (34-30) were no match for the Sixers (42-21) in a 126-104 loss in Philadelphia Friday.

Next up, on the second half of a back-to-back, the Hawks will travel back home to face the Bulls Saturday.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. Young returned to the lineup after missing four games with a Grade 2 left ankle sprain, which he sustained in the Hawks’ loss to the Knicks April 21. Fortunately for both Young and the Hawks, he ended up only missing four games, so they get him back for the final stretch of the regular season as they try to position themselves well for playoffs. The Hawks immediately felt his presence, with 10 points in the first quarter, and Young led the team with 32 points (10-for-19 field goals, 2-for-6 from 3-point range, 10-for-10 free throws) and four assists in 28 minutes, operating on a minute restriction.

2. Tony Snell also made his return, after missing 10 games with a right ankle sprain. Snell added six points, four rebounds and three assists, quickly getting back in the habit of making 3′s, going 2-for-4 from beyond the arc. Getting two bodies back was a major plus, but the Hawks still had too much shooting, shot creation and defense on the bench, with Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness), Kevin Huerter (left shoulder sprain), De’Andre Hunter (right knee soreness) and Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) all out. The Hawks finished with 19 total assists, to the Sixers’ 27. This was a tough time for them to face a loaded Sixers team. “It’s very tough when you go against a team like this and you’re not fully, not everybody is out there,” Young said. “They’re a talented team, they’re a team that’s trying to compete for a championship this year, and so for us, we’ve just got to continue to get guys healthy and go from there.”

3. In Wednesday’s lifeless loss, the Sixers held a depleted Hawks team to a season-low 83 points. Although the Hawks were healthier this time around, Philadelphia, the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, still proved an extremely difficult matchup for them. The Hawks started out strong, but got pummeled in the second quarter, giving up 42 points and falling behind 65-46 at halftime. They couldn’t stop Joel Embiid (18 points, six rebounds), Ben Simmons (18 points, six rebounds, five assists), Tobias Harris (18 points, three rebounds) or Dwight Howard (19 points, 11 rebounds for a double-double, two blocks). Although the Hawks actually won the third quarter 31-29 as Young continued to roll, they couldn’t get stops to carve into the deficit.

4. Giving up 68 points in the paint (the Sixers average 47, good for the No. 16 mark in the league) isn’t a recipe for success for the Hawks, but Philadelphia thrived in the paint Friday. That put the Sixers in the driver’s seat for pretty much the whole game. “We didn’t contain them, I think that was the problem tonight,” interim coach Nate McMillan said. “Defensively, we just could not keep the ball in front of us. They had 40 points in the paint at half, finished the game with 68 points in the paint and when a team is playing in the paint, you don’t control the ball, you really don’t control anything. You don’t control the rebounding, you don’t control the perimeter. We just had too many breakdowns on the ball.”

5. The Hawks’ second unit largely struggled, but Danilo Gallinari added 16 points off the bench, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc in his first game with multiple 3′s in a week. Gallinari also added two assists and one rebound.

Stat of the game

68 (how many points the Sixers had in the paint, compared to the Hawks’ 42)

Star of the game

Howard (led the Sixers in scoring with 19 points, adding 11 rebounds for a double-double)

Quotable

“That’s always been my motto, every time I’ve, knock on wood, had these types of injuries, I’ve always tried to battle back and tried to get back to the court as fast as possible.” (Young on his quick return from an ankle sprain)

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