Sixers lose to the Hawks

Posted: February 02, 2014

THERE WERE a lot of similarities on the basketball court last night at the Wells Fargo Center. Both 76ers coach Brett Brown and Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer are disciples of San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, and each is in his initial season as an NBA coach. The two formed a bond that goes well beyond the basketball court, and for them not to steal some things from what they learned with one of the best organizations in the league would be silly.

Both preach moving the basketball with an emphasis on playing at a faster pace, and both demand a disciplined style of defense.

The difference is the talent, with Atlanta holding a big advantage in that department. It showed, as the Hawks torched the Sixers, 125-99, to improve to 24-21. The Sixers, who lost for the 11th time in 14 games, dropped to 15-32.

"I think they're well-coached," Brown said. "I think he's done a hell of a job. Amongst the turmoil of losing [Al] Horford [for rest of season to pec injury] and maintaining competitiveness and losing some hard-luck games, I just see a team that's a team. They're amongst the leaders in assists. They take a lot of pride on moving the ball, sharing the ball, playing disciplined in his structure. I just think it's a nice progressive lead-up to building a culture and a program, and I can see that. It doesn't surprise me."

The Hawks held true to form, dealing 36 assists on 45 baskets and getting balanced scoring, led by reserves Elton Brand and Mike Scott, who both had 18. The Sixers got 29 points from Thaddeus Young, but little else from anyone for the game when it was still undecided. Michael Carter-Williams did score 17, Elliot Williams 15 and Lavoy Allen 11. The starters, excluding Young, shot 9-for-30.

"It was the poorest performance of our season," Brown said. "It's one of the few times I feel like effort wasn't there. As a group, we have no appreciation of the importance of playing defense."

Budenholzer praised the effort of his team.

"I think there's just a lot of good, fundamentally sound basketball things that San Antonio does and some junior high team do and high school teams do, and we've taken what's good and hopefully molded it with our groups," he said. "Hopefully, some of the good stuff has come with us."

It wasn't hard to see the good in the Hawks last night. Not so much for the Sixers.

"It's kind of surprising [how far the Sixers have fallen] because I root for the guys," Brand said of his former team. "I still have friends on this team, and I didn't think it would go this bad this fast. But they took a swing for the fences [trading for Andrew Bynum in the summer of 2012] and sometimes you swing for the fences and you strike out. I understood what they were trying to do with the Bynum thing and breaking it up, but, at the same time, we did have a great run and we had a good time."

Seems so long ago.

When the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday night, no Sixers' name was called. It might not surprise many, but there was some talk that Thaddeus Young might have had an outside shot. Coach Brett Brown lobbied somewhat for it when asked by the local media in the past couple of weeks, but Young didn't seem to mind the snub all too much.

"To tell you the truth, I wasn't even worried about it," said Young, averaging 17.3 points, 6.3 steals and 2.07 assists going into last night. "At the end of the day, if it happens it happens, if it doesn't it doesn't. It didn't. Congratulations to all the guys who made it, continued success throughout their careers, and hopefully one day, I'm an All Star."

While most have little more than a casual interest in the Super Bowl, Sixers center Spencers Hawes is above and beyond interested. The Seattle native is more than a little stoked for tomorrow's game between his Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

"Finally, my tickets are here, my passes are here, now it's just a slow boil," he said. If there was ever a year for Hawes to be able to enjoy his favorite team in the big game, it was this one. The team will fly into New York from Detroit tonight and have an off day tomorrow before facing Brooklyn on Monday, allowing Hawes to fully enjoy the game.

"It's going to be cold; hopefully, that affects Peyton [Manning]," he said. "I'm going to go 24-17 Seahawks. The defense has to do their job. We have to jam up those receivers on the line."

It is the second appearance for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl; they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-10, to complete the 2005 season.

"In '05, I was a junior in high school, and I didn't really have the resources then to go out to Detroit in the middle of the school year," Hawes said. "It's kind of like the stars aligned the way the schedule worked out and everything. I've been waiting a while. Seattle sports aren't the easiest thing to be a fan of. I think we're due. It's like they're meant to win."

After spending 17 years coaching in Australia and 12 in San Antonio, there is a lot about Philadelphia that coach Brett Brown has to learn. He got a real education to our great city yesterday when he attended 94 WIP's Wing Bowl, arriving around 6 a.m.

"What do you say? You go down there and to see 19,000 or 20,000 people at that time of the morning, and the lead-up and you're walking through and people are saying hello and wishing you luck," he said. "You go into that environment and what a great city, what a great event. Really, it's unique. It was a real eye-opener.

"I did Google it, and when you're reading about it, it sort of takes some of it in and then you click images and you're like, ooh. So this goes to a higher level and you think you know, but when you get there . . . They obviously have a heck of a lot of fun and it's obviously grown in popularity. It was fun."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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