76ers-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 06, 2013
The Atlanta Hawks are glad to be home. They might be short-handed, however, in their return to Philips Arena. Atlanta will try to prevent a season high-tying fourth straight defeat - and seventh in a row in this series - on Wednesday night when the slumping Philadelphia 76ers look to avoid their longest road skid in 25 seasons. After averaging 106.3 points in wins over Milwaukee, Detroit and Utah, the Hawks (33-26) were held to 91.0 per contest in the second-half of a season-high six-game trip that ended with Monday's 104-88 loss to Denver. "Tired both physically and mentally,'' coach Larry Drew said. "It's been a long road trip. Fatigue does factor into at this point.'' The Hawks took Tuesday off, but fatigue could play a role moving forward with the growing number of injuries. Kyle Korver (strained right big toe), the NBA 3-point field goal percentage leader (46.2) missed Monday's game, as did Zaza Pachulia (sore right Achilles') and DeShawn Stevenson, who rested his knees after Sunday's 99-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Point guard Jeff Teague (sprained left ankle) and forward Ivan Johnson (dislocated left middle finger) were injured Monday, but both returned. "It was a tough,'' said center Al Horford, who averaged team highs of 23.7 points and 12.2 rebounds on the road trip. "But I was proud of the guys who dressed up and played. It's a long season, you deal with injuries, and guys came out and fought." The 76ers (23-36) will have to do that if they're going to have any chance of making a third consecutive postseason appearance. Philadelphia fell 7 1/2 games back of eighth-place Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference after losing for the 10th time in 12 games on Tuesday, 109-101 to Boston. "We just missed too many easy shots,'' guard Royal Ivey said after the team missed 16 of 21 3-point attempts and shot 41.0 percent overall. It doesn't get any easier for the 76ers, who play 15 of their final 23 outside Philadelphia. With a loss on Wednesday, they'll drop 11 in a row on the road for the first time since a 20-game slide from Dec. 28, 1987-March 4, 1988. Philadelphia, though, opens its three-game trip unbeaten versus Atlanta since Dec. 3, 2010. The 76ers posted their most lopsided victory of 2012-13 in the only other meeting, 99-80 on Dec. 21 behind 21 points from Evan Turner and 18 with 11 rebounds from Thaddeus Young. All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, who had 11 points and seven assists in that game after missing four with a sprained left foot, should be in the 76ers' lineup after appearing to hurt is right ankle late in Tuesday's defeat. Forward Josh Smith, who finished with 15 points on Monday to become the 24th player in league history with 10,000, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks, is averaging 19.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 blocks during the losing streak to Philadelphia.
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