J.J. Redick scored 28 points as the 76ers set a new franchise record with their 15th consecutive win, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 121-113 on the road Tuesday night.
Redick finished with the game-high 28 points on 9-17 shooting, including knocking down 6-9 from beyond the arc. The 28 point outpour marked the fifth straight game in which Redick led the 76ers in points, picking up where the injured Joel Embiid left off.
The 76ers were dealt a blow just 13 seconds into the game, as, on the first offensive possession of the game, Dario Saric went down after contact was created near the baseline. Saric immediately ambled toward the locker room, and would not return. The prognosis was listed as a lacerated upper lip and a chipped tooth. There has been no immediate timetable presented for his return to action.
While Redick finished strong, he didn’t begin the contest with much flair, as he started the night just 2-5 from the field. He did, however, pace the 76ers early with six point, keeping Philadelphia within striking distance after the Hawks jumped out to a 14-7 lead. During that early Atlanta run, the Hawks were paced by Taurean Prince, who connected on his first two triples in the contest and knocked down three of eight shots from the field in the first quarter. Prince finished with a team-high 27 points, but was far less efficient that Redick, needing 25 attempts, including 18 from deep, to settle in on that total.
The 76ers used a 9-3 run late in the first quarter to cut the Atlanta lead to just one, 24-23, but the Hawks immediately responded with an 8-2 of their own to close out the half. Richaun Holmes picked up the final points of the quarter, but the Hawks led 32-27 after one quarter.
Head Coach Brett Brown was not pleased with the way his team came out in the first 12 minutes of play Tuesday night.
“At times, we want it all. You want to play fast, you want to play free, but it leads to a contradiction there. I thought we were too sloppy at times in the first quarter,” Brown said.
The 76ers would turn things around in a hurry, using a 9-2 opening second quarter run that became part of a larger 14-4 run to stake claim to a 41-36 lead midway through the second quarter. That smaller run was encompassed by a 24-8 outburst through the first six minutes of the quarter, as the 76ers grabbed a 51-40 lead with 6:13 to play in the second. During that stretch, Ersan Ilyasova came alive off the bench, connecting for seven quick points. Ilyasova finished with 31 minutes played in place of Dario Saric, scoring 26 points on 8-16 shooting, including 4-8 from beyond the arc.
But as they had earlier in the contest, the Hawks took control of the pace of play not long after, scoring 11 consecutive points to tie the game at 51. Over that stretch, the 76ers went on a scoreless drought for over three and a half minutes of play. Philadelphia would grab nine of the half’s final 11 points, taking a 61-55 lead into the break.
Out of the timeout, J.J. Redick would score the 76ers first five points, but then Philadelphia went cold from the field for the second time in the contest. An Amir Johnson three pointer was all the 76ers could muster for almost four minutes, as the Hawks drew within two, 69-67. Johnson was pivotal down the stretch, getting extended minutes off the bench. He made the most of them, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Play would go back and forth midway through the third quarter before the 76ers took hold of another quick run to lengthen their lead. The 76ers scored eight straight points to regain a double-digit lead, 84-74, behind the sharpshooting of Marco Bellinelli. Bellinelli hit three triples on four 76ers’ possessions, scoring nine straight Philadelphia points, on his way to a 20 point night off the bench. Over that run, the Hawks found themselves reeling now, scoring just one bucket in over four minutes of play.
Heading into the final quarter of play, the 76ers led the Hawks 89-79.
But Atlanta would not go away quietly in their final game of the 2018 season. Antonius Cleveland scored five straight for the Hawks to open up the quarter, cutting the 76ers’ lead to seven, 91-84. Later in the quarter, the lead would be trimmed once more, as the Hawks went on a 7-0 run to crawl within two possessions, trailing 106-100. A few possessions later, Taurean Prince knocked down a clutch three to cut the 76ers lead to five, 115-110, but the Hawks would miss three point attempts on consecutive possessions, allowing the 76ers to knock down five of six free throw attempts to extend their lead to 121-112. A lone Hawks’ free throw would give the 76ers their 15th consecutive victory, a 121-113 win over the Hawks.
The win gives the 76ers a three game series sweep over the Hawks and their 51st win of the regular season. The win puts the 76ers back in front of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a full game in the Eastern Conference standings with the three seed still very much up for grabs. On the final day of the regular season, a 76ers win over the Milwaukee Bucks would clinch the three seed for Philadelphia. A Cleveland loss to the New York Knicks would produce a similar outcome. Should the 76ers fall to the Bucks, and the Cavaliers defeat the Knicks, Clevland will take the three seed and 76ers will be the four seed. If the 76ers defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, they will set an NBA record for most consecutive victories to close out the regular season, passing the 1949-1950 Rochester Royals, who finished their season with 15 straight wins.
Tip off against the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night is set for 8 p.m., and you can catch all the action on 97.5 The Fanatic!
-By Tyler Zulli, producer and www.975thefanatic.com contributor