Published April 05, 2013
ATLANTA – Philadelphia's highest-scoring quarter of the season made 76ers coach Doug Collins proud and left Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew fuming.
Evan Turner had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Philadelphia took command with a 40-point opening quarter and beat the Hawks 101-90 on Friday night.
The Hawks fell to sixth in the Eastern Conference, one game behind Chicago.
Drew said the Hawks "were soft defensively" in the first quarter.
"How you can come out and play like that when the game has that type of meaning is beyond me," Drew said.
Spencer Hawes added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the 76ers, who made 16 of 22 shots to lead 40-26 after 12 minutes. Thaddeus Young scored 14 points with 12 rebounds.
Drew had sharp criticism after his team's second straight home loss. He said that after 77 games, "We don't know who we are."
Drew said he emphasized in training camp the Hawks "had to be a team that would be gritty, we had to be a team that would bring a blue-collar intensity, especially on defense."
Added Drew: "Somewhere along the line we forgot who we need to be."
Josh Smith, who led Atlanta with 19 points, scored to cut Philadelphia's lead to 54-45 late in the first half. A basket by Hawes pushed the lead back to double figures for good.
Al Horford, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds, disagreed with Drew's critique of the Hawks.
"I don't think it's a matter of identity," Horford said. "I think it's more of working through a slump. ... For whatever reason, we can't get it all together. We know what we're about."
Ivan Johnson had 17 points off Atlanta's bench.
Damien Wilkins had 16 points for the 76ers, who have won four of five. Philadelphia's previous high mark for points in a period was 36 in the second quarter against Sacramento on March 26.
"That might have been the best first quarter we've had all season long," Collins said. "We had great energy. The ball was moving. We were just really sharp.
"It really set the tone for the game, and then we found a way to close it out. It wasn't pretty there at the end but that's a really good road win for us against a playoff team."
The 76ers are barely alive in the playoff race, sitting five games behind eighth-place Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
"These games are important for us," Collins said. "I've got young players. Little things that you keep teaching, that's why we're going to coach and teach and play these games to the finish."
Turner said the impressive opening period "was huge" for the 76ers.
"I think we were clicking on all cylinders," Turner said. "Coach challenged to really come out and try and win the first quarter."
Before the game, Collins commended his team's spirit despite the slim playoff hopes.
"We're not looking to be in the lotto bowl," Collins said.
Atlanta's last lead was 11-10. The 76ers pulled away by making their first five 3-pointers and made 9 of 16 overall.
Jrue Holiday, who shot just 2 of 24 from the field in Philadelphia's 88-83 loss at Charlotte Wednesday night, had more shooting struggles while making only 3 of 14 shots for nine points.
The 76ers' 40 first-quarter points matched the high mark allowed by Atlanta in any quarter this season.
NOTES: Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing had a front-row seat. ... More than 500 college coaches in town for the Final Four were invited to the game. ... 76ers F Dorell Wright (right elbow contusion) was held out. He has played since he injured the elbow on March 30 against Charlotte, but he had renewed soreness in practice on Thursday. ... Hawks G Devin Harris (sore left foot) and G John Jenkins (mild concussion) were not available. Jenkins said he hopes to play Saturday at San Antonio. ... The Hawks also gave up 40 points to Miami in the fourth quarter on Feb. 20.