Atlanta Hawks' Kent Bazemore (24). Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo
PHILADELPHIA -- Kent Bazemore, amid a breakout season, helped the Atlanta Hawks break open Thursday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Bazemore, a guard/forward, scored 22 points, nine in a pivotal stretch late in the third quarter, as the Hawks blasted the mistake-prone 76ers 126-98.
Center Al Horford and forward Paul Millsap had 18 points each for Atlanta, which snapped a two-game losing streak. Horford also collected nine rebounds and three blocked shots, while backup guard Dennis Schroder contributed 14 points.
"A two-game losing streak is not fun," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "You want to respond to the loss in the right way and you definitely want to respond to a second loss in the right way, so tonight was important."
The Hawks, who were scoring an NBA-best 20.2 points per game off opponents' turnovers, converted 22 Philadelphia giveaways into 29 points. Seven of those turnovers came in the last 3:19 of the third period, fueling a 15-5 Atlanta run that featured nine points from Bazemore.
That pushed the lead from 82-71 to 97-76. Atlanta (22-15) led by as many as 35 in the fourth quarter.
"A lot of things went right for me there," Bazemore said. "It's not like that every night, but as long as my effort's consistent, I think I'll be able to make a few plays here and there."
Bazemore, in his fourth season and his second with Atlanta, is starting regularly for the first time in his career. He began the night averaging 12.9 points a game, shooting 47.2 percent from the floor and 42.7 percent from 3-point range, all career bests.
"This year, I've expanded my game a little bit, being able to shoot it a lot better, and in the open floor I'm more likely to attack now," he said. "It just comes with a lot of work, a lot of film, and the player development here is outstanding."
Center Jahlil Okafor had 21 points to lead Philadelphia (4-34). Guard Ish Smith had 12 points and seven assists, while forward Nerlens Noel contributed nine points and 13 rebounds.
As troubling as the turnovers were to 76ers coach Brett Brown, he was even more disappointed with his team's defense. The Hawks shot 53.3 percent despite a 5-for-20 start, and nailed 13 of their 31 3-point attempts.
"We played with no spirit tonight," he said. "We played with no fight tonight. ... I thought we were very poor defensively tonight."
The 76ers moved to a 21-15 lead early in the game, only to see Atlanta jumpstart a 25-3 run with 19 consecutive points. Backup forward Mike Scott had nine points and reserve guard Tim Hardaway Jr. contributed eight to that flurry, which left the Hawks with a 40-24 cushion.
By halftime, the Hawks were up 61-44, having outscored the 76ers 39-23 in the second quarter.
Horford had 11 points, five rebounds and two blocks in the half, while Bazemore contributed 10 points.
Okafor topped Philadelphia with 13 first-half points.
The Atlanta lead ballooned to 74-50 early in the third quarter, and the Hawks were still up by 24, 80-56, when the 76ers reeled off 13 straight points. Noel had a pair of stick-backs to key the run, which sliced Philadelphia's deficit to 80-69.
"Then," Brown said, "the floodgates opened."
After an exchange of baskets, the 76ers turned it over on four straight trips, leading to nine unanswered Hawks points, five of those by Bazemore. Three subsequent turnovers resulted in four more points for Atlanta, including another Bazemore basket.
NOTES: Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer called former Hawks F Elton Brand, signed Monday by the 76ers to mentor a young team, "one of my favorite people" and "one of the finest human beings I've ever been around." The 36-year-old Brand played for Atlanta the last two seasons, and was thought to be retiring. The Hawks were among the teams seeking to bring him aboard this season in some capacity, Budenholzer said, but Brand opted for Philadelphia, where he maintains a home. "Everybody's been talking about him being a mentor here," Budenholzer said. "I think he mentored me in some ways, for a couple years." ... Retired F Shane Battier met with the 76ers, though coach Brett Brown said the team was looking only to pick his brain, not sign him as a player. "What that means down the road, with some type of relationship, who knows?" Brown said.