NBA: Hawks end skid, get win over 76ers
PHILADELPHIA — Kent Bazemore scored 22 points, Paul Millsap and Al Horford had 18 apiece and the Atlanta Hawks blew out the Philadelphia 76ers 126-98 on Thursday night to snap a two-game losing streak.
Dennis Schroder added 14 points off the bench for the Hawks, who shot 54 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range against the NBA's worst team en route to their most lopsided win of the season.
Rookie Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 21 points, while Nerlens Noel had nine points and 13 rebounds. Recently acquired point guard Ish Smith finished with 12 points and seven assists.
Trailing by 24 midway through the third quarter, the Sixers tried to stage a rally with a 13-0 spurt. But the Hawks went ahead 97-76 at the end of the third and surged to a 32-point lead with 8:44 left behind 10 points in the first 3:16 of the fourth quarter from Schroder.
The Hawks forced the Sixers into 22 turnovers, including 10 in the third quarter. Atlanta finished with 33 fast-break points.
After the Sixers jumped ahead by six late in the first quarter, the Hawks took control with an 18-1 run to lead 36-22. Mike Scott scored nine points during the stretch, including a 3-pointer to beat the first-quarter buzzer after four sharp passes in five seconds threw the Philly defense off balance.
The Hawks built their lead to 17 by halftime.
The biggest cheer of the night came midway through the first quarter, when Smith's behind-the-back pass in transition found Noel, who dished it to a streaking Okafor for a slam.
Smith also got the crowd revved with a couple of alley-oops to Noel. But the Sixers couldn't push their record above .500 with Smith in the lineup, falling to 3-4 since they acquired the crafty point guard on Dec. 24. Before that deal, they were 1-30.
Hawks: Atlanta avoided its third three-game losing streak of the season. The Hawks only had two such streaks last season en route to earning the top seed in the East. . The Hawks have won nine of their last 10 games vs. Philly. . Kyle Korver, who spent his first four-plus seasons in the league with the Sixers, got a standing ovation from Philly fans before the game.
76ers: Elton Brand, who was signed earlier this week to provide Philly with much-needed leadership, did not make his NBA debut as some expected. But the 17-year NBA vet sat on the bench in street clothes and, according to Sixers coach Brett Brown, gave Noel and Okafor tips on how to defend Millsap, Brand's teammate in Atlanta the last two seasons. . Shane Battier, who retired in 2014 after 13 NBA seasons, was invited to be the Sixers' guest for the day. Brown said the visit was "about reaching out to basketball people and trying to pick their brain."
Hawks: Host Chicago on Saturday
76ers: Host Toronto on Saturday
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