The Atlanta Hawks opted to rest starters Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, and Kyle Korver for their trip to Philadelphia Saturday evening. Head coach Mike Budenholzer probably wishes he could have re-considered that decision, because the Sixers would beat Atlanta 92-84 for their 14th win of the seaosn.
Atlanta would jump out to a big lead early, finishing up the first quarter up 31-20 behind the offensive prowess of Al Horford. The former Florida standout put up eight points in the first frame while dominating Nerlens Noel on the low block. Atlanta continued their strong efforts early into the second, but Philadelphia slowly began to shoot their way back into the contest. Hollis Thompson knocked down three triples for nine of his 11 second quarter points, and Philadelphia was able to close the gap to six points at halftime.
The Sixers would take the lead early in the third quarter thanks to back to back three's from Isaiah Canaan and Robert Covington, and the two teams began to ride the seesaw. Ish Smith's speed and strong passing abilities provided a nice offensive infusion, and able to limit Atlanta's guard play on the defensive end. The Hawks scored just 16 points in the third, and Philadelphia was up 72-69 headed into the last quarter.
A pair of three's from Mike Scott and former Sixer Shelvin Mack would give Atlanta a three point advantage, but the Sixers would claw their way back. A nice lefty finish around the rim by Hollis Thompson would put the Sixers up a deuce, and a driving layup by Nerlens Noel extended the lead to four with just over three minutes left to play.
By that time Atlanta's offense had gone entirely cold, clearly missing the floor spacing and outside shooting prowess of Korver. Luc Mbah a Moute would ice the game with a three from the top of the key with just over a minute left, and the Sixers got their first win since February 27th.
Hollis Thompson was far and away the best Sixer on the floor Saturday, finishing 5-7 from three and 7-10 from beyond the arc for 19 points. Mbah a Moute also chipped in 19 points on 8-16 shooting. While it wasn't Noel's best game in recent memory, he made his impact felt when it mattered most, putting up 11 points and pulling down 17 rebounds.
Ish Smith and Isaiah Canaan were a combined 6-26 from the field, but I like what I've seen from Smith. His speed and passing skills have given the Sixers life when he comes off the bench, and he continues to earn his playing time.
The Sixers are back in action Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls at home.