Postgame Thoughts: Hawks Happy to be Home

Thursday, March 7, 2013
By Jaryd Wilson

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks

A few thoughts after tonight’s 107-96 win over the 76ers:

– Boy did the Hawks need to get home.  After three straight tough road losses, Atlanta bounced back in the comforts of Philips Arena nicely.  They had a few advantages – the Sixers coming off a back-to-back and having injuries to Nick Young and Jason Richrdson – but the Hawks won’t be complaining.

– 20+ point games from Al Horford are back.  After breaking a nine-game streak with at least that many by dropping 18 in Denver, Horford scored 21 tonight to go with 12 rebounds.  It appears his elevated level of play is becoming permanent, which is a great sign with 22 games to play.

Jeff Teague was one point away from a career-high tonight, but the 27 points is a coming out party of sorts after struggling to find his groove on the road trip.  He was 10-15 from the field and also handed out 11 assists tonight.

Anthony Tolliver scored 21 points on 5-7 shooting from downtown.  Tolliver surpassed his previous season high of 14 on a night where he was frequently asked to play the power forward position.

– On that point, Larry Drew went small a lot tonight.  So small, in fact, that even with Zaza Pachulia on the shelf with a sore Achilles, neither Ivan Johnson nor Johan Petro saw minutes, and Mike Scott didn’t check in until the game was basically over.  Instead, Tolliver, Josh Smith and Horford rotated among the three for two forward spots, and three guards were used all night.  It worked against the small 76ers lineup.

Shelvin Mack, who the Hawks just signed to a 10-day contract today, played the final minute of the game.  He should help spell Teague and Devin Harris and fill the backup point guard role for a while.

Kyle Korver came back from a toe injury that sidelined him one game and hit a three-pointer to extend his streak to 53 straight games with a triple.  He ended with nine points, and the Hawks were +19 with him on the floor tonight.

– The win cuts Atlanta’s magic number to 12 – That’s the combination of Hawks’ wins and the ninth place team’s losses needed to clinch a playoff spot.  In this case, the win decreased the number by two since Philadelphia is currently ninth in the East.

John Jenkins scored seven points on his birthday.

A nice win for the Hawks against a struggling 76ers team.  A loss here would have been disastrous with the Celtics, Nets, Heat and Lakers on the schedule next.  The Hawks shared the ball well with 28 assists and kept the turnovers to a marginal 14.  We need to get Pachulia healthy for Boston because games with them are always physical.  If the Hawks can win two of the next four, I’d call it a success.  If they play like they did tonight, it’s certainly possible.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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