ATLANTA -- While trying to snap a 10-game road losing streak had to be at the forefront of the 76ers' minds, playing defense appeared to be an afterthought for much of Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks. Extremely tired legs didn't help, either.
After a five-minute beginning to the game during which Atlanta missed all six of its shots and turned the ball over four times, lending to an 8-0 start by the Sixers, the Hawks shook off the cobwebs that a six-game road trip can gather and stormed to a 107-96 win, ending their three-game losing streak and handing the Sixers their 10th loss in 11 games and 10th straight on the road. It was the first time the Hawks had beaten the Sixers since Dec. 3, 2010.
When your team struggles as mightily as the Sixers have, and are heavy-legged because of playing for the eighth time in 12 nights, you look for a spark anywhere you can. Wednesday, that came in the form of newly acquired guard Charles Jenkins.
After a first half in which the 6-3 combo guard out of Hofstra collected five points, two assists and a steal in a little less than eight minutes, coach Doug Collins decided to start him in the second half in favor of Royal Ivey. The move worked temporarily, as the Sixers cut a 12-point lead to three midway through the quarter.
But just as in the second part of the first quarter, the Hawks awoke and blitzed the Sixers by 23-5 in the final 6:38 of the quarter, the dagger coming in the form of a three-pointer at the buzzer by Jeff Teague for a 91-70 lead.
Jenkins finished the night with seven points and five assists.
Damien Wilkins also provided surprise relief for the Sixers, as he came off the bench to score a season-high 21 points. Dorell Wright continued his good play with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Thaddeus Young scored 16 points.
"Our bench came in and did a great job; they really did," Collins said. "Dorell, Damien, Arnett (Moultrie). I was really happy with Charles, I thought he came in and did a good job for us. Those are all good things to pull from."
It was the second straight game in which the three-point line was a deciding factor. Tuesday, the Celtics drained 11 bombs, and Wednesday, the Hawks matched that number. In those two games the Sixers were outscored, 66-33, from beyond the arc.
"I thought we were very tired tonight," Collins said. "I thought the eight games in 12 nights and the back-to-back, I thought we played with a lot of fatigue."
The fatigue factor and a turned ankle late in the first half really seemed to drain point guard Jrue Holiday as he struggled through a 3-for-12 shooting night for 11 points and four turnovers, though he did deal 12 assists.
"I think we came out and tried to give it our all, especially at first, but as much as we've been playing and the game that we had (Tuesday) and how we've been fighting, just sometimes when you give it your all, it's not as sharp and as quick as you want it to be," said Holiday, sporting ice on his jammed left thumb. "They were missing a lot of shots, but we were missing shots, too. Easy shots that could have put us up by 15. I don't know, just have to come out and play every day, play as hard as you can."
His counterpart, Teague, scorched anyone and everyone for 27 points; he also dealt 11 assists. Al Horford collected 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Anthony Tolliver came off the bench to score 21. Josh Smith added 13 points for the Hawks (34-26).
"He's a good player," Collins said of Teague. "He gets you in those mid-pick-and-rolls, and if you try to go under it, Horford can shoot the ball, and then they roll it to the basket, and they have excellent three-point shooting, and Tolliver really hurt us tonight with his shooting. We were just a step behind. If you look at us on the season, we've defended the three well. Normally, we do a good job with that. We were fatigued, but I don't want to make any excuses. Atlanta is a really, really good team."
The Hawks signed guard Shelvin Mack to a 10-day contract. Upon his signing, he tweeted that it was good to be with a winning team. Mack, of course, has had two 10-day contracts with the Sixers this season.
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