Tonight was one of those games where you can simply look at the box score and have a pretty good idea of how the night went. And for your sake, I hope that the only thing you looked at was the box score - no one should be exposed to that kind of carnage.
The final score - Atlanta Hawks 124, Philadelphia 76ers 86 - tells most of the story, but the key number of the night was 24. That's how many turnovers the Sixers had against Atlanta (who turned them into 29 points), and the history books show that teams rarely win when they're that careless with the ball.
It's also rare that a team finishes a game with five bench players scoring in double figures. That's exactly what the Hawks did on Wednesday as their bench accounted for 80 (!) points. Granted, the fourth quarter was a garbage time turnover fest with less defense than the Pro Bowl, but eighty points is a huge number.
A look at the play-by-play sheet will tell you that the Sixers went nearly seven minutes in the second half without making a basket. During that stretch, Atlanta's lead ballooned from 11 to 26 points, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
"I feel like we didn't play with much energy," said Brett Brown after the game. "As a group, we just did not have much tonight."
For the record, it was ugly at the beginning of the game as well. After shooting 7-for-20 from the field at the start, the Sixers found themselves down 10 points just 12 minutes into the game. Jahlil Okafor (who didn't look all that engaged early on), picked up two quick fouls and committed five of the Sixers' nine turnovers in the first quarter.
The 76ers made noise early in the second period with a 10-2 run that cut the deficit to four, but Atlanta responded with a 17-2 stretch of their own that powered them to a 58-42 halftime lead.
A few good things happened tonight: Okafor was listed as the starting center, but actually guarded Paul Millsap (Atlanta's starting power forward) whenever he and Noel were both in the game. It's a positive sign to say the least: Noel is superb as a rim-protector, and it looks as if Brett Brown has finally relented and moved Okafor to the 4 spot on D.
Nik Stauskas (17 points, leading all scorers) finished in double-figures for the third time in four games, and Jerami Grant (four blocks) brought some energy on the defensive end. And the 76ers actually outrebounded the Hawks 14-10 in the first quarter - Atlanta would turn the tables and enjoy a 42-24 rebounding edge the rest of the way.
The Sixers (7-42) are back at it on Friday when they head down to D.C. to face the Washington Wizards.
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