The guys off the bench gave them a boost. Especially Anthony Tolliver.
The journeyman forward scored a season-high 21 points as the Hawks bounced back from a sluggish start to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 107-96 on Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 27 points, and Al Horford came up big with 21 points and 12 rebounds. But everyone agreed that Tolliver and another backup, Kyle Korver, provided the spark that was needed after Atlanta missed its first eight shots.
“The starters played a lot of minutes on the road,” said Tolliver, referring to a six-game, 10-day trip that included a swing to the West Coast. “We knew that coming off the bench, we had to bring a lot of energy and help these starters get the win.”
Korver scored seven of his nine points in the first quarter, sparking a team that still seemed to be suffering from jet lag when Philadelphia raced to an 8-0 lead. The Hawks went nearly 5 minutes before scoring their first points, as Josh Smith laid one in after a series of quick passes to break up a string of errant jumpers.
Suddenly, it was a different team. Atlanta dominated the rest of the half, hitting 25 of 36 (69 percent) from the field.
“Coming off the long road trip, guys were just trying to get their feet under them,” Teague said. “We couldn’t get any shots to fall. But eventually we got rolling. Kyle came in and gave us a great boost. “
Tolliver took it from there. Averaging just 3.4 points a game, he had already surpassed his previous season best of 13 points by halftime. The Sixers kept leaving him open beyond the arc, and he kept knocking down 3-pointers, finishing 5-for-7 from long range.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me whenever I was open,” Tolliver said. “The shots were just going in. For some reason, I kept finding myself being the odd man out. I happened to be the man who was open.”
Philadelphia, which was playing its eighth game in 12 days, trailed by 19 in the first half before the Hawks settled for a 59-47 lead at the break. The Sixers had one more run left in them, cutting the deficit to 66-63 in the third. But the Hawks finished the quarter on a 25-7 spurt, and the Sixers never got any closer than 10 in the final period.
“They’ve got excellent 3-point shooting,” Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. “Tolliver really hurt us (Wednesday) with his shooting.”
Damien Wilkins led the Sixers with 21 points, while Dorell Wright had 20. But, after the quick start, they quickly looked like the tired team, not surprising since they were coming off a loss at home to Boston the previous night.
“We were just a step behind,” Collins said. “I just thought our whole team was sluggish. We were very fortunate to start the game. They weren’t ready to roll. We were up 8-0, but I thought we should have been up 15-0.”
Teague’s performance was no surprise. The point guard repeatedly beat the Sixers off the dribble, slicing into the lane for easy layups and thoroughly outplaying Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday. Teague made 10 of 15, including three beyond the arc, and doled out 11 assists.
But Tolliver’s play caught Philadelphia totally off guard.
In the teams’ previous meeting, a Sixers victory in December, the journeyman played only 7 minutes and failed to score. This time, he couldn’t miss from the outside, not to mention pulling down eight rebounds for another season high.
“My job is to help the team win any way I can,” Tolliver said. “(On Wednesday), my role was knocking down a lot of shots.”
Thaddeus Young had 16 points for the Sixers, who had six straight wins over the Hawks but shot just 43 percent (37-of-86).
Atlanta finished at 54 percent (43-of-80) from the field.
“We tried to give it our all, especially at first,” said Holiday, who had only 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting. “Sometimes when fatigue kicks in, it’s hard to concentrate, especially coming on a back-to-back like that. I think we just need some rest.”
NOTES: The Hawks recalled F Mike Scott from Bakersfield of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 24.7 points and 11.3 rebounds during a three-game stint. ... Atlanta also made a couple of other moves, waiving F-C Jeremy Tyler and signing G Shelvin Mack to a 10-day contract. Tyler was acquired from Golden State on Feb. 21 but played only one game for the Hawks. ... Philadelphia’s starters combined for just 37 points. ... Korver extended his franchise-record streak for hitting at least one 3-pointer to 53 games. ... The Hawks played without C Zaza Pachulia, who remains slowed by a strained right Achilles. ... Holiday, who had 12 assists, jammed his left thumb late in the game and had it heavily bandaged afterward. “Nothing serious,” he said.