PHILADELPHIA — Al Horford put up his first career triple-double as the Hawks, resting three starters, easily defeated the 76ers 105-87 Tuesday night.
Coach Mike Budenholzer rested Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap to start a trip of four road games in five days. Budenholzer would not say directly but he may rest players again at Boston Wednesday night. Reserve center Pero Antic did not play so he is a likely candidate to start if Horford is rested.
Here are five observations from the win over the Sixers.
1. There was an interesting breakdown of Horford’s 21-point, 10-rebound and 10-assist game. He scored nine first-quarter points on 4 of 5 shooting. He had five second-quarter assists. Horford entered the fourth quarter needing just two rebounds for the triple-double. He got them in the first 3:32 of the period and promptly headed to the bench. Budenholzer claimed postgame to have no knowledge of the statistical trifecta when he made the substitution. However, it was clear that the players on the court and on the bench knew what was needed.
Horford was asked if he should be called Magic Johnson after the performance. “Yeah, if you want,” he said with a smile.
2. Kent Bazemore finished with a season-high 17 points off the bench. He was 7 of 14 from the field, including 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Budenholzer and Horford each, without prompting, praised the effort of Bazemore.
“(Kent) Bazemore was huge for us off the bench,” Horford said.
3. Mike Muscala made his first career start. He finished with six points and nine rebounds despite picking up two fouls in the first 2:09. Key to his game was the five offensive rebounds.
4. Without their starting point guard in Teague, the Hawks still had 34 assists on 42 field goals. It was a statistics that pleased Budenholzer. Dennis Schroder, who started at the point, had six assists. Shelvin Mack finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists in 23 minutes.
5. There is still plenty of room for improvement in the eyes of Budenholzer, even with a reserve-heavy lineup. In this postgame interview, Budenholzer praised the team defense – through three quarters. That is because the Hawks allowed the Sixers 20, 17 and 18 points in the first three periods. In the fourth quarter, the Hawks allowed 32 points. That broke the dreaded 30-point plateau.
“I think our defense and just our activity for the first three quarters kept giving us an opportunity to get a little bit of separation,” Budenholzer said.