76ers focus on defense as Hawks visit
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The Philadelphia 76ers will look to regroup against the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
In their last game, the Sixers surprisingly lost 123-106 at Washington, even though it was their ninth straight loss on the road against the Wizards, dating to 2013.
But after handily defeating the Wizards on Tuesday in Philadelphia, the Sixers committed 24 turnovers and fell on the second leg of a back-to-back.
Joel Embiid scored 35 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Jimmy Butler scored 23 points. Ben Simmons had 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but the Sixers looked flat without guard JJ Redick, who was out for a second consecutive game with tightness in his lower back.
"The combination of not being able to make some shots and the turnovers creating a lot of their offensive looks was too hard to overcome," Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters.
In the first game against the Wizards, Landry Shamet hit a rookie-record eight 3-pointers on his way to 29 points. On Wednesday, the Sixers often misfired from beyond the arc, going 8 of 27.
Turnovers and defense have been ongoing issues for the Sixers. They were major problems once again against the Wizards.
"My challenge with all those young guys is defense," Brown told reporters. "This league, you cannot blink. Defense is the area that as a team, and certainly those young guys, is most on my mind going forward."
The Sixers (27-15) fell behind by as many as 26 points before making a late push.
Even though the Hawks are struggling mightily, the Sixers must return home and clean up these areas.
The Hawks (12-29) blew an early 19-point lead and fell 116-100 at the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
Atlanta did have some bright spots as John Collins scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Rookie Trae Young scored 17 points, and Jeremy Lin added 16.
"I think we came out with the momentum from last night's game," Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said, referring to a close loss against the Toronto Raptors. "A lot of energy, a lot of movement, a lot of pace, attacking downhill and then we just ran out of gas."
Collins was especially impressive, going 12 of 21 from the field. It was the 11th time this season that Collins had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in a game.
"I thought he was great to start the game," Pierce said.
"He goes right to the paint and plays a little bully-ball and it's good to see because that's just part of his growth. Just being physical, being dominant, trying to find easy opportunities when they switch, or have a smaller guy on him. But a great start for him, a great numbers game for him."
Atlanta's bench will continue to be a bit thin with center Miles Plumlee sidelined for at least two weeks with left knee soreness. Plumlee has appeared in 18 games this season.
Young, a touted rookie who was the fifth pick in the draft, has been struggling all season with his shooting. Young is hitting 39.4 percent from the field overall and only 28.8 percent from 3-point range, although he is averaging 7.3 assists per game.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 10, 2019