High-flying Hawks win ninth straight
Horford at last had a triple-double to add to his own highlight reel.
“Congratulations on your first one, brother,’’ Wilkins said.
With Wilkins calling the action from the broadcast booth, Horford had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the Atlanta Hawks to their ninth straight win, 105-87 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
The Hawks easily thumped the Sixers even while resting leading scorer Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll during a stretch of four games in five nights.
“It’s always hard when you’re missing some guys,’’ Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You worry maybe about each guy not doing his job and continuing to play within the framework of the team. I thought our guys did, for the most part, a good job of sticking to what they do.’’
Horford did his even better, making 8 of 10 shots in just 29 minutes. He was pulled once he grabbed his 10th rebound.
“All the guys on the bench started telling me, ‘Get two more rebounds! Get two more rebounds!’’’ he said. “The guys were great about it.’’
The Hawks have won 23 of 25 and won their ninth straight road game. They are in first place this late in the season for the first time since they won the East in 1993-4.
Kent Bazemore scored 17 points and Kyle Korver had 15. The Hawks made 12 of 23 3-pointers.
Korver showed his former team why he’s the best 3-point shooter in the league. He made one 3 late in the first half for a 43-35 lead, followed with another on the next possession, then watched as Mike Scott buried his own 3 to send the Hawks into halftime up 49-37.
The Hawks used those three 3s in the final 1:13 of the half to help turn a five-point lead into a rout.
“It kind of feels like a college team in a lot of ways,’’ Korver said. “In the NBA, the business side exists. It’s on people’s minds. But I feel like everyone here has really bought in.’’
The lowly Sixers had won three of four and zipped past New York in the Eastern Conference standings.
“They make everything so simple that you’ve really got to stay disciplined on defense,’’ said Michael Carter-Williams, who led the Sixers with 20 points. “We didn’t tonight and that’s why we lost.’’
In Phoenix, LeBron James scored 33 points in his return from a two-week layoff, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Cleveland Cavaliers from going down to their sixth straight loss, 107-100 to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
Markieff Morris scored a career-high 35 points on 15-of-21 shooting for the Suns, who outscored the Cavs 11-3 over the last 3:31.
The Cavaliers rallied from a 19-point, third-quarter deficit to go ahead in the fourth, the first of eight lead changes down the stretch.
J.R. Smith, who joined the Cavaliers during James’ absence, scored 29, going 8 of 14 on 3-pointers.
James, who took time off to rest his sore left foot and lower back, made 11 of 18 shots, 6 of 8 in the second half.