76ers-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

Though the Atlanta Hawks have been very good at home, they must play much better than in their latest contest at Philips Arena if they want to end their slump against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Hawks look to bounce back from their worst home performance of the season as they try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to the 76ers on Saturday night.

After winning three in a row to conclude a 4-1 road stretch, Atlanta (16-7) did not have much energy in a 96-77 loss to Memphis on Thursday to fall to 8-2 at Philips Arena. Josh Smith had a team-high 11 points for the Hawks, who scored 34 total points in the second half and were outrebounded 49-36 for the game while apparently still feeling the effects of a lengthy trip.

"When you have this kind of season, it happens,'' center Zaza Pachulia said. "But that's not an excuse. We're a good team. Good teams have to find a way to regroup.''

That could be a difficult task for Atlanta, which held the 76ers to 41.7 percent shooting but scored only 29 second-half points during a 90-76 loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 20.

The Hawks also expect to be shorthanded in the paint after backup center Jason Collins left Thursday night's game in the first quarter because of a sprained left elbow. Collins - averaging 1.0 point and 1.6 rebounds in 13 games this season - is another big body inside for an Atlanta team that will be without All-Star center Al Horford for a 13th straight game because of a torn pectoral muscle.

"It's definitely a tough loss if he's out," said teammate and ex-76er Willie Green, who had a team-high 14 points off the bench against the 76ers last month.

Atlanta might also need more inside offensive production from Smith, who is averaging 15.2 points this season but has totaled 24 in the last three games. He was held to 10 on 5-of-15 shooting at Philadelphia in January.

Leading scorer Joe Johnson (18.7 points per game) scored just 10 against the Grizzlies, and has averaged 9.0 points on 11-of-30 shooting in the last three versus Philadelphia.

Though the 76ers (16-7) lead the Atlantic Division, they also must play better after their four-game winning streak was snapped with a 99-79 loss to Miami on Friday, concluding a 5-2 homestand. Philadelphia is in the midst of a seven-game stretch that began with victories over Orlando and Chicago before facing the Heat. It continues after Saturday's contest with a three-game home stint against the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio and the Pacific Division-leading Clippers.

Thaddeus Young scored 16 points Friday as Philadelphia shot 39.5 percent while matching its second-lowest scoring total of the season. The 76ers also gave up their second-most points of the season at home while allowing the Heat to make 51.9 percent of their shots - the highest by an opponent at Philadelphia in 2011-12.

"We knew there would be some rough times, but we'll be OK," Young said. "We know we're a good team. There won't be any heads down.''

Young, who scored 20 against the Hawks last month, has averaged 17.3 points on 21-of-37 shooting in the last three games versus Atlanta.

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