East-leading Hawks lose to lowly 76ers
PHILADELPHIA, USA - The Atlanta Hawks, fresh off a victory over LeBron James and Cleveland, saw their six-game win streak snapped Saturday, March 7 (Sunday Manila time) by the NBA's second-worst team, Philadelphia, while the Cavaliers ripped Phoenix.
Philadelphia's Luc Mbah a Moute and Hollis Thompson each scored a game-high 19 points to spark the 76ers to a 92-84 victory over Atlanta, who opted to rest three starters.
In Cleveland, Russian big man Timofey Mozgov scored a game-high 19 points to power the Cavs past Phoenix 89-79.
The Hawks, who solidified their spot as the top team in the Eastern Conference by beating Cleveland 106-97 on Friday, squandered an 11-point lead after the first quarter against the lowly 76ers, who had lost nine of their prior 10 games.
Absences may have played a part. Starters DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap all sat out for rest. Korver didn't travel to Philadelphia.
Pero Antic was sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
But the Hawks were also hurt by some sloppy play. They scored just 31 points in the second half.
Jeff Teague scored 17 points while Dennis Schroeder added 16 points off the bench for the Hawks, but each had five turnovers.
"I was just making boneheaded mistakes on the break," Teague said. "I just didn't have it."
The playoff-bound Hawks fell to 49-13 and behind Golden State (48-12) in the fight for the NBA's best overall record.
"It wasn't our best night," said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. "Sometimes you learn from those just as much or more than your good nights."
At Cleveland, Mozgov connected on 6-of-8 shots from the floor and 7-of-8 free throws in the triumph.
Four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James added 17 points while Kevin Love had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Tristan Thompson came off the bench to score 15 points and grab 12 rebounds.
The Cavaliers improved to 40-25, just ahead of Toronto and just behind Chicago in the fight for second place in the East.
James, who was sharply critical of himself after he coughed up nine turnovers in the loss to Atlanta on Friday, also had eight assists on Saturday, matching Mark Price's Cleveland club record of 4,206 careers assists.
"I think it's a pretty cool feat," he said.
The Cavs led by as many as 32 points in the third quarter. They scored just nine in the final frame, but James was pleased with the defensive effort that had allowed them to build the big cushion.
"At one point I looked up at the scoreboard and saw they were shooting 27 percent," he said.
"That let me know that we were in tune with the game plan. We came out and executed. We contested shots, rebounded and we played some really good basketball."
Markieff Morris scored 16 points to lead the Suns, who fell to 33-31, 10th in the Western Conference and two games behind Oklahoma City for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. - Rappler.com