The Hawks (32-41) snapped their six-game losing streak with a 103-95 comeback victory over the Sixers (16-58). Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 28 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, and three steals in a dominant performance, and Lou Williams pushed the Hawks to the win in the fourth quarter with 11 of his 22 coming in the final period.
Hawks vs. 76ers
In his first game back after missing six games with back spasms, Kyle Korver got off to a rough start, missing all five of his shots in the first half but rebounded in the second half for 11 points with three made baskets including a three-pointer to kick off the third quarter. DeMarre Carroll also returned after missing Saturday night’s game with a stomach illness, and — like Korver — Carroll found his way in the second half after a rough start for nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Thaddeus Young dominated early for the Sixers as they led by a 10-point halftime margin. Young finished the game with 23 points, four assists, and three rebounds and shot an incredible 5-of-6 from three-point range. Millsap had it going early with 15 points and seven rebounds in the first half, and really carried an otherwise sluggish Hawks offense. The Hawks were ice cold in the first half shooting 31.9% from the field and 13.3% (2-of-15) from three, while the Sixers shot 51.2% and were 5-of-15 from three.
“Nah, we couldn’t ,” said Millsap. “Easy shots, open shots, we missed them all. We just decided to try and attack the basket, get to the rim and the free throw line to open things up a little bit.”
“I think was pretty good in the first half, but he was significantly better in the second half, just like the rest of the guys, and we really kind of went through him. He went and got boards and got to the free throw line, and I think he was even more decisive and more aggressive in the second half. That was a big part of us being able to turn the score.”
Young and Millsap battled each other much of the night, with Millsap eventually coming out with the better line and the win. After a 14 point first half, the Hawks tightened up their defense on Young particularly in the pick-and-roll/pop.
“Well, he can also put the ball on the ground. Hard driver left. He can make plays at the basket, so it makes him tough when he’s making jump shots. He got going early so it was a little tough to contain him. staying with him on pick-and-rolls. Not giving him too many open looks — he still hit some tough shots in the second half — but we were able to contain him a little bit more by staying connected to him.”
Williams played the first three minutes of the fourth quarter before getting a breather until the 4:24 mark, and at that time the game was tied at 87. Williams missed his first three-point attempt, but then made three straight baskets — two threes and a floater — to take the Hawks from a three-point deficit with 2:55 left to a five point lead with 1:12 to play.
“He deserved to be on the court,” said Coach Bud. “He played well. It was great for our whole group for Lou to have a night like that. With the situation and circumstances with Kyle and DeMarre coming off injury and a little bit sick, Lou really stepped up and took over some of that slack. He was what we needed down the stretch.”
After a seven-game stretch earlier in the year where he did not play, Williams has come back with a renewed energy and has taken a rough patch and turned it into a positive.
“Lou’s been a great professional,” said Bud. “He’s stayed after practice or before practice. He’s been doing extra work with Jeff Watkinson our strength and conditioning coach, and I think it’s hard for people to understand what it means to be a pro. I think that’s an example. He wasn’t getting to play, and a pro comes in and works early, stays late, does extra work in the weight room, and it’s a credit to him that he was ready when we called on him.”
For the Hawks, the win was huge with regard to the playoff race. Up just one game on the Knicks heading into the night, Atlanta desperately needed a win — particularly against a struggling opponent — to keep a bit of a cushion over New York.
“Well yeah, myself and everybody else feels like this game and every game from here on out is a must win,” said Millsap. “We need these games, it’s as simple as that. If we approach them as that, we won’t have quarters like we had tonight in the first quarter. Just staying focused and getting out there and doing what we need to do to win.”
“One game at a time,” said Williams. “We’re trying to win them all, and it felt good to come out and get the win. We’ll enjoy this one tonight, and start getting ready for the next one in the morning.”
That next one will be against a tough Bulls team that has given the Hawks fits this season on Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
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