Following the loss against Miami on Friday night, the Sixers (17-7) avoided back-to-back losses by beating Atlanta 98-87 on Saturday night. The Sixers lead by 20 in the third quarter and managed to keep the double-digit lead until Atlanta tried to form one last attempt at a comeback during the final stages of the game. Although Joe Johnson managed to help the Hawks (16-8) create a rally, Lou Williams made two baskets that ended the game. Williams and Thaddeus Young had 14 points each while Andre Iguodala had 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.
The Sixers still managed to win without forward Elton Brand, who was held out because of a sprained thumb. He suffered the injury against the Heat on Friday night when it was caught in a jersey. Rookie Lavoy Allen, a former Temple star, made his first career start and put up four points. On the bright side [concerning injuries], Spencer Hawes was able to return after missing 10 games with an Achilles injury. Hawes put up 14 points.
The Sixers dominated the Hawks during the second quarter, having a 16-point lead at half and then extending it to a 20-point lead by the end of the third. Undrafted rookie Ivan Johnson, who had his first career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, tried to make Atlanta within reach of the Sixers. Ivan filled in for Zaza Pachulia during the second half after he had eight rebounds and six points in less than nine minutes.
Ivan made three straight baskets for Atlanta late in the third as the Hawks pulled within 12 points. However, the Hawks had missed opportunities and the Sixers ended the quarter on a 8-0 run, which extended the lead back to 19. Atlanta started the fourth quarter nicely, starting a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 10, but they couldn’t trim the lead to single digits.
Before the game, the Sixers and Hawks were tied for the fourth-best record in the East. While the Sixers remained to look like a playoff team, Atlanta struggled in their second straight home loss. After ending their road-trip on a 4-1 record, the Hawks have now dropped games against the Grizzlies and now the Sixers.
For the Hawks, forward Josh Smith had nine points and 10 rebounds but missed on his first eight attempts before getting in a groove in the third quarter. Joe Johnson had 16 points. The Hawks backup center Jason Collins sprained his left elbow in the losing effort against Memphis and will miss at least two weeks. Collins’ said the sprain was moderate.