Road wins don’t come easily for the Atlanta Hawks this season as evidenced by their 9-14 record away from Philips Arena. However, when you play one of the worst teams in the NBA, winning on the road becomes a lot easier. The Philadelphia 76ers were no match for the Hawks despite playing on their home floor and facing a team with a number of injuries to key players. Coming into the game with the worst defense in the league, the Atlanta offense lit up the 76ers for 125 points in a blowout win. Philadelphia kept the game close in the first quarter with the help of Thaddeus Young, but an offensive explosion by the Hawks in the second and third quarters put the game out of reach.
It wasn’t just one player that dominated the worst defense in the league; everyone had a big game for Atlanta in this one. A remarkable seven players scored in double figures in order to propel the Hawks to good road win. The starters played well, but their night ended early because of the unbelievable play of two key bench players in Mike Scott and Elton Brand. Since the injury to Al Horford, both have been giving coach Mike Budenholzer big minutes off the bench in order for Atlanta to maintain their current position in the Eastern Conference standings. However, last night they provided two of their biggest games yet.
Brand scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a surprise performance on the offensive end. Hawks fans are accustomed to Brand’s ability to rebound with the best of them, but no one expected him to score a season-high 18 points in this game. In fact, his highest point total on the year so far was only 10 points which makes his night that much more impressive for the rebound specialist. There may have been some extra motivation for Brand in this game, too. He spent four years in Philadelphia with the 76ers, so you know he wanted to make a statement to his former team to prove he still play at a high level despite being considered a veteran nowadays.
Brand had a great game, but Scott had an even better one for the Hawks. His scoring in the second quarter swung the momentum in favor of Atlanta. He scored 16 of his 18 points on the night in the second quarter alone which is the highest point total by any Hawks’ player in a quarter this season. Scott’s 18-point game was impressive, but he’s been providing a spark offensively off the bench all season. In his last ten games, Scott has scored in double figures in all ten to lead the charge off the bench for the Hawks. However, his rebounding effort was the most impressive in the win over the 76ers. He grabbed nine rebounds which is his second highest total on the season.
If both Brand and Scott continue to give Atlanta great production off the bench while Horford sits for the rest of the season, Atlanta can still compete with the some of the best teams in the league. They’ve proved it before with big wins over the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat, but those wins came at home. On the road they both have to provide productive minutes off the bench in order for Atlanta to keep winning games away from Philips Arena.