ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks are in complete rebuild mode, but that didn’t stop them from beating the 76ers for the second straight time.
This time, Trae Young scored on a 14-foot driving layup with 0.1 second left, lifting the Hawks to a 129-127 outcome Saturday night at the State Farm Arena.
The loss snapped the Sixers’ six-game winning streak. The Eastern Conference’s third-place team dropped to 47-26 with nine games remaining in the regular season. The Sixers also trail, 2-1, in the season series with Hawks (26-48). Atlanta won the teams’ previous meeting, 123-121, back on Jan. 11.
On this night, Young had game highs of 32 points and 11 assists to with 6 rebounds and 6 turnovers. Twenty-one of the rookie point guard’s points and eight of his assists came before intermission. During that time, Young made 7 of 8 baskets --including 3 of 4 three-pointers.
But Young wasn’t exactly a one-man show.
Atlanta was the aggressor and controlled the pace of the game. Meanwhile, the Sixers looked like a squad sleepwalking on defense.
“They got open threes from ... name it -- top of the key, corners,” Jimmy Butler said. “They got floaters, mid-range jump shots, dunks, layups some free throws. The imposed their will.”
The Hawks attempted 47 three-pointers, making 15 of them. They also had a 66-54 advantage in points in the paint and 21-12 advantage in second-chance points.
Asked if it was a communication or energy problem, Butler said he didn’t know.
“I think it’s the fact that we think we are a really good team,” he added, “and we just come in and do whatever we are going to do and think that we are still going to win.”
Joel Embiid paced the Sixers with 27 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to go with four turnovers. Jimmy Butler scored 8 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. Ben Simmons had 21 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 blocks, and 2 turnovers.
The Sixers battled back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit and had a three-point lead on Simmons’ hook shot with 2:12 to play.
The lead seesawed before Butler’s pair of foul shots put the Sixers up, 127-125, with 39.9 seconds left. Taurean Prince knotted the score on a layup 12 seconds later.
After the Sixers had a shot-clock violation on the ensuing possession, the Hawks had a chance to win the game with 3.5 seconds left. Young responded.
The Hawks tried to get the ball at the top of the key.
“For me, I wanted to get a couple of dribbles in and I knew I had a little bit of time where I could get a quick couple of dribbles and then maybe a move before I needed to shoot the ball,” said Young, who was guarded by Butler. “I just wanted to get to my strong suit and get to my pull-up, that mid-range floater I have."
This was Embiid’s first game played in Atlanta.
The two-time All-Star was sidelined his first two seasons due to foot surgeries. In his third season, Embiid missed the team’s 2016-17 contests here due to not being cleared to play on back-to-back nights. He participated in games the night before both matchups at the Wells Fargo Center. However, Embiid would not have played even if cleared for a back-to-back on Jan. 21, 2017. He suffered a left knee injury on a dunk the night before against the Portland Trail Blazers.
He returned to action six days later, but missed the remainder of the season because of a meniscus tear in the knee. And he missed last season’s two games here with a fractured orbital bone near his left eye.
Boban Marjanovic hit the first three-pointer of his career with 6:21 remaining in the first quarter.
Saturday night marked the third time in the last three games that Brett Brown coached against a former colleague.
But this time, it was against someone from his coaching tree. Lloyd Pierce was the first assistant Brown hired after being named the Sixers head coach back in August 2013. Pierce spent five seasons on his staff before accepting the Hawks coaching gig last summer.
The Sixers faced the Milwaukee Bucks on March 17 before topping the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday in road games. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, Hornets coach James Borrego and Brown were all members of the San Antonio Spurs coaching staff.