Teague too much for Sixers in road loss to Hawks

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Teague too much for Sixers in road loss to Hawks

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA -- The old adage says that three times a charm. However, there was but nothing charming about the Sixers’ third-quarter performance Friday night in Atlanta.

The Sixers watched a two-point advantage at halftime turn into an 11-point deficit midway through the third quarter in a 113-103 loss to open up their three-game road trip (see Instant Replay).

“I think where it stood out to me as far as the turning point, I didn’t think we started the third quarter very well at all,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “We came out and we give them credit, they jumped us, and from that point going forward they were far more the aggressor.”

“Our bench came in and got us back in it and showed great energy, but at that point you could feel the momentum was swinging. We give them credit. We didn’t do a great job of starting that second half.”

The Hawks used a 12-2 run to seize control in the third quarter. In the end, the Sixers were outscored 28-17 in the frame to go into the final quarter down by nine points.

“I think in the third quarter the ball just stuck,” said Thaddeus Young, who scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss. “We didn’t continue to move the ball around like we usually do.

“When we have quarters like that it is tough for us to get back into a game physically and mentally. We just have to get back to the flow of the game, the feel of the game and how we are used to playing.”

Things definitely bogged down for the Sixers after intermission. They had 21 assists in the game, but only seven of those came in the second half.

The Sixers were led in scoring by Evan Turner’s 27 points. Turner has scored at least 20 points in nine of the Sixers’ 10 games this season.

Spencer Hawes finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double this season.

However, it was the Hawks’ double-double man on this night that sealed the Sixers’ fate.

Jeff Teague scored a career-high 33 points to go along with 10 assists in Atlanta’s victory. He connected on 10 of 16 shots from the field and 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

“When you watch their games this year, you see they go to him a lot and you can see why they go to him a lot,” Brown said. “We tried different pick-and-roll schemes. He was really good tonight. He is a hard guard and he was at the rim a lot. We tried a bunch of different ways to defend him and not many worked.”

“Jeff is a tough handle,” Young said. “He is one of those guys who can do anything on the court besides post up. He can handle the ball. He can shoot threes. He can kill you going to the basket. He has a nice floater and he knows how to get into the bigs and make it difficult on us trying to block his shot.”

Teague came into the game averaging 18.1 points and 9.9 assists, both career highs.

While the Sixers knew the veteran Teague was a threat coming in, they likely didn’t expect the same from forward DeMarre Carroll. Carroll is playing for his fifth team in five seasons, but he felt right at home inside Philips Arena on Friday night.

Carroll scored 21 points in the game. He shot 8 of 14 from the field, including 5 of 8 from three-point range to give him 12 threes for the season. By comparison, he made just 20 three-pointers all of last season with the Utah Jazz.

“I think DeMarre Carroll has been a really good addition for them,” Brown said. “I remember talking to Bud (Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer) and him saying maybe he can be a Bruce Bowen-type. He can chase and use his length and play defense that way. And then if he can better his three-point range and be more efficient, and it looks like they have achieved that.

“His threes hurt us. Five for eight from behind the line was a great night for him.”

The Sixers continue their three-game road trip in New Orleans Saturday night when they face off against former teammate Jrue Holiday and the Pelicans.

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Sixers 2016-17 player evaluation: Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Position: Shooting Guard

Status for 2017-18: Guaranteed — $3,807,147

Stauskas in 2016-17
In his second season with the Sixers and third in the NBA, Nik Stauskas saw himself generally improve across the board, albeit by a small amount. The Sixers as a whole had a plethora of injuries that kept nearly every player off the court for extended periods, yet Stauskas remained healthy enough to play 80 games, start 27 and play 27.4 minutes a contest. Health is certainly a skill and Stauskas has it.

As for his play on the court, Stauskas got better in essentially every category. His field goal percentage rose from 38.5 to 39.6 percent, he shot a career-high 36.8 percent from three and he improved his scoring to 9.5 points per game while also sporting career highs in rebounds, assists and blocks with only a 2.6 minute increase in minutes per game.

His consistency was pretty notable. He played at least 23 minutes in every game after Jan. 20 and was a constant in an ever-changing Sixers rotation. He had eight straight games with double figures to end February. While he began the year as the backup two-guard, Stauskas started at shooting guard by the end of the year with Gerald Henderson nursing an injury. Coach Brett Brown even had Stauskas play point guard down the stretch with injuries to Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez creating an opening. In that way, Stauskas diversified his skill set

Signature game
Stauskas' season-high 21 points came against Phoenix in mid-November, a win against a team even worse than the Sixers. Stauskas had 20 points on back-to-back games in Orlando and Oklahoma City in late March, hitting eight threes over the two games.

But what is a signature game for Stauskas without a little measure of revenge? On Jan. 30, Stauskas made four threes and scored 16 points against the Kings, providing some key baskets in a 122-119 win over his former mates.

Looking ahead to 2017-18
Next season for Stauskas will be a critical one. It'll be the final season of his four-year rookie contract. While he's improved year to year, he's not quite the product one may expect out of the former eighth overall pick. At this point, a few years removed from that 2014 draft, it is unfair to continually compare him to that draft and instead focus on what he is.

Well, what is Stauskas? He's a shooting guard who can play a little bit of the point in a pinch and can hit a decent, albeit not elite, clip of threes. There's value there for sure. However, with a bevy of potential draft picks coming the Sixers' way, the guard known as Sauce Castillo could see his role downsized in 2017-18 with a rookie taking his minutes.

Even players getting healthy could take minutes away from Stauskas. He's already competing with veteran Gerald Henderson, also a free agent after 2017-18, for minutes and Bayless may be squeezed into more of a two-guard role with Ben Simmons at the point. Simmons, Bayless and T.J. McConnell likely take away the few opportunities Stauskas would have to play point guard, but he only took that on because of injury anyway.

Still, even in a roster squeeze, Stauskas brings a fair amount to the table. Brown's system needs shooters and despite a few slumps, Stauskas can drain jumpers. He's developed chemistry in the locker room and has earned enough trust and stayed healthy enough to play 27 minutes a game in the NBA. 

On Stauskas
"We're seeing a skill package that everybody talked about when he came out of college. You're seeing a lottery pick play. I'm personally happy for him because he cares sometimes too much and he's so self-conscious at times and extremely prideful and he's being rewarded for the work he has put in."

- Sixers coach Brett Brown

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

NBA Playoffs: John Wall scores 42 as Wizards eliminate Hawks

ATLANTA -- John Wall had that look in his eye at morning shootaround.

Bradley Beal knew it was going to be a big night for Washington's star point guard.

Wall scored 42 points -- a career playoff high, with 19 coming in the fourth quarter to single-handedly hold off a furious Atlanta comeback -- and the Wizards eliminated the Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday, capturing the opening-round playoff series 4-2.

"You could just tell he was locked in," Beal said. "He was ready to go. We just feed off that."

Beal wasn't too shabby either, scoring 31 points (see full recap).

Celtics complete series comeback, eliminate Bulls
CHICAGO -- The Boston Celtics kept reminding each other not to let up as they closed in on a lopsided victory and a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

No need to worry about that.

Avery Bradley scored 23 points, and the hot-shooting Celtics pounded the Chicago Bulls 105-83 to win their first-round series 4-2 on Friday night.

The top-seeded Celtics simply torched Chicago to finish off a tougher-than-anticipated series and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Boston regrouped after dropping the first two games at home and will meet Washington in the Eastern semifinals. Game 1 is Sunday (see full recap).

Clippers beat Jazz on road to force Game 7
SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris Paul scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Clippers forced a Game 7 in their first-round series with a 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The Clippers will host the only do-or-die game of the first round Sunday, with the winner advancing to face the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles began to edge away in the third quarter and appeared to be in control when Austin Rivers capped a 9-2 run with a step-back 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 91-77 with 3:58 remaining.

He hit another with 1:29 left to make it 96-86, but Gordon Hayward scored seven straight to bring the Jazz within three before Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer in the waning seconds (see full recap).