The Hawks (2-1) took the Sixers down to the wire but couldn’t stop Joel Embiid, who led all scorers with 36 points and had a game-high 13 rebounds, and fell short in a 105-103 loss Monday night at State Farm Arena.
The Hawks play at the Heat Tuesday night.
» STEVE HUMMER: Hawks must settle for an instructive loss
These are some takeaways from the loss:
1. The Hawks didn’t really have an answer for Embiid. Leading up to Monday’s game, Embiid was listed as questionable (right ankle sprain, sutures for lip laceration) but he ended up playing and dominating with a double-double. It didn’t help the Hawks that John Collins and Alex Len both had three fouls by halftime and Damian Jones had four. Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce on Embiid’s impact: “We have to play small and try and figure out ways to just get the ball out of his hands, and then once he gets it down there we have to find other ways to try and get it out of his hands, as well, and basically, that’s what the game came down to.” The game got chippy as it progressed — in the third quarter, Embiid had a massive dunk on Collins, then got a technical foul for taunting afterward. Trae Young got a tech as well after arguing with a referee after the dunk.
2. This game wasn’t beautiful for either team, offensively, but the Hawks couldn’t stop the Sixers when it counted in the fourth quarter, letting an eight-point lead (courtesy of a clutch corner 3 by rookie De’Andre Hunter with 4:53 to play) slip away. The Sixers closed the gap and took a two-point lead after Collins was called for a foul on Embiid with less than six seconds to play, and Vince Carter missed a shot at the buzzer to seal the loss. As the game grew more physical in the fourth, that gave Philly (which tallied 11 blocks total) an advantage. “That’s what the fourth quarters are,” Pierce said. “It’s a little slower, it’s more physical. Officials will probably let things get away a little bit more and that’s definitely their style, and so we’ve got to find ways to adjust and be better in the fourth quarter.”
3. The Sixers’ tough defense limited Young, who came into the game averaging 38.5 points through the first two games, to 25 points (he added 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 7 turnovers). Young went scoreless in the third quarter. His passing ability, however, was on full display, particularly as the Sixers pressured him. On a rifle pass, Young found an open Jabari Parker in the corner for a 3-pointer in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Young served a full-court pass to an open Len, who finished with a dunk. Young then connected with Collins on a lob. He found Collins on another lob in the third quarter to take a 69-63 lead.
4. Backing up starting center Len, rookie Bruno Fernando had a solid game with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, adding a 3-pointer. Pierce on Bruno’s performance: “He was aggressive. He scored around the basket. He was trying to be physical with a guy that’s an elite center in our league (Embiid). But he wasn’t afraid of the moment. ... I thought he came out and gave us a great punch while he was out there.”
5. Collins surpassed the 2,000-point mark in his career, tallying 16 points and 8 rebounds. Through three games, he is averaging a double-double of 13.5 points and 11 rebounds.
By the numbers
21 (the amount of turnovers each team registered)
“They’ve got a lot of guys on their team strictly just for defense. They’ve got a lot of guys that are long, athletic.”
— Trae Young on battling Philly’s tough defense.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.