for this game

Hot Sixers roll over Hawks

Jan 11, 2009 - 10:58 PM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia 76ers remember blowing a 23-point lead the last time they were at Philips Arena.?? Andre Iguodala and the Sixers made sure that it did not happen again.

Iguodala poured in 27 points and Thaddeus Young added 22 and grabbed nine rebounds to lead Philadelphia to a 109-94 rout of the struggling Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon.

Andre Miller scored 19 points and rookie Marreese Speights poured in 10 of his 12 in the final quarter for the Sixers, who have recorded a season-high four straight wins.

"We controlled the pace of the game for most of the game," Philadelphia coach Tony DiLeo said. "We got into our rhythm pretty good and got out on the break as well. I know they came back a little on us, but for the most part, we controlled the pace of the game."

Joe Johnson scored 25 points and Mike Bibby added 22 for Atlanta, which has lost three straight and four of its first five games in 2009.

"We're kind of in a rut right now," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "The guys are kind of looking over their shoulders a little bit. The only way we're going to get out of it is if we're going to have to work our way out of it at practice."

The Hawks cut a 10-point deficit to 83-81 on Maurice Evans' layup 44 seconds into the final quarter before Speights and the 76ers ended the game with a 26-13 run.

Speights could not miss down the stretch, connecting on all five of his shots, including two dunks over the listless Atlanta defense.

"He had some really good coaching at Florida," DiLeo said. "He has a really high basketball IQ and makes a lot of instinctive plays on the court that most big men just don't do. Not only is he a good offensive player, but he blocks shots and plays defense, too."

The Hawks were playing without Speights' former collegiate teammate, Al Horford, who missed Sunday's game with a sprained right knee and will not accompany Atlanta on its three-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Phoenix.

Young capped the run with a pair of 3-pointers for the final margin of victory.

"We got some stops tonight," Iguodala said. "When we get stops, it enables us to get out and run. We're getting easier opportunities on the fast break, and when that's not there, we're getting points off of our half-court set."

It was a good day for teams from the "City of Brotherly Love" as the city's beloved football squad defeated the division rival Giants, 23-11, to advance to the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Philadelphia's basketball team blew an early lead in this one, but did not allow history to repeat itself.

The Sixers were embarrassed in Atlanta's home opener, blowing a large lead before falling, 95-87, opened Sunday's contest by scoring 14 of the game's first 17 points.

Atlanta roared back with a 17-2 run to grab a 20-16 lead on two free throws by Johnson with 3:51 remaining in the first.

But this time, the Sixers responded, taking the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Reggie Evans, which gave Philadelphia a 37-35 lead with 10:13 left in the second quarter.

"It felt kind of similar," Sixers reserve guard Royal Ivey said. "We went up 10-0, and they made their run. We just held them off tonight."

It has not been a good year thus far for the Hawks, who have struggled defensively since the calendar flipped to 2009. Defensive-minded Atlanta has allowed its opponent to exceed the century mark in each of the last four games.

The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 50 in their 112-87 loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday, allowed yet another team to run all over them.

Philadelphia finished 55 percent from the field, outrebounded Atlanta, 39-24, and held a 20-point advantage in the paint.

"Anytime a team shoots over 50 percent for the game, you're not going to give your team a chance to win," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "We just have to continue to play better team defense. Defense is the key."

"We just don't have any energy at all," Johnson added. "Each one of us has to look ourselves in a mirror and ask if we're giving it 100 percent, because we're not."

Things won't get much easier for Atlanta, which begins its trip out West against the high-flying Suns without the defensive efforts of Horford in the middle of the floor.

"I don't know how long Al's going to be out," Woodson said. "We have enough bodies that can rebound the basketball. That's the basic fundamentals of basketball. No one stepped up. When Josh Smith was out earlier this year, we had guys step up. Today we didn't."

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