Vucevic leads balanced attack as Sixers drop Hawks
Atlanta, GA – Nikola Vucevic had a career-high 15 points and 87, on Saturday.
Spencer Hawes returned from a 10-game absence and netted 14 points to go with five rebounds while Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young also scored 14 points for the Sixers, who rebounded from a 99-79 loss to Miami on Friday. Philadelphia has won five of its last six games.
"The first couple of times up and down the court I could tell the difference with my wind a little bit. The second wind kicked in and felt pretty good after that," Hawes said of his endurance coming back from an Achilles injury.
Jeff Teague poured in 21 points and Ivan Johnson recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds for Atlanta, which has lost consecutive games for just the second time all season.
With Hawes and Vucevic back in the lineup together for the first time since January 16, the Sixers dominated the interior, outscoring the Hawks 54-38 in the paint. Atlanta allowed 58 points in the paint in its last game on Thursday against Memphis.
"We've just got to lock up and play defense," Ivan Johnson said of Atlanta's interior defense. "That's all it is, playing defense."
It was a defensive struggle in the opening quarter as neither squad shot 38 percent. Joe Johnson netted seven first-quarter points to give the Hawks a 21-20 lead after one.
The Sixers, though, shot a blistering 73.9 percent in the second stanza to create some separation heading into the break.
Philadelphia nailed 12 of its first 16 shots in the period as it used a 24-9 run to take a 46-34 advantage with 3:03 remaining until the half. Jodie Meeks and Evan Turner netted seven points apiece during the surge.
Vucevic nailed a three-pointer from the left corner with 1.4 seconds remaining in the half, giving Philadelphia a 57-41 lead into the break.
Vucevic's short turnaround jumper increased the Sixers' lead to 20, 68-48, with 7:26 to play in the third. But the Hawks countered with a 10-2 run to cut the margin to 70-58 with 4:18 to play in the quarter.
Philadelphia later finished the stanza on a 7-0 spurt as it took an 81-62 lead into the final period.
The Hawks got within nine, 94-85, on Joe Johnson's jumper with 1:45 to play, but back-to-back buckets by Williams sealed the win for the Sixers.
Vucevic, a rookie, scored 13 points against Miami on January 21...The Sixers have won four straight games over the Hawks...Philadelphia's Elton Brand missed Saturday's game with a sprained right thumb...Andre Iguodala finished with nine points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the Sixers...Turner had 11 points while Meeks added 10...The Sixers scored 17 points off 15 Atlanta turnovers.