For the third straight game, the Sixers’ starters got the fourth quarter off.

The team overcame a slow start to sweep the two-game series against the Hawks with a 126-104 win at the Wells Fargo Center Friday night. The win improves the Sixers to 42-21, a half-game behind the Nets for the one seed.

With All-Star guard Trae Young returning to the lineup, Atlanta got off to a much better start. The Sixers looked a bit sluggish, allowing Young to score 10 points in the opening quarter. The Hawks led by as many as 13.

The biggest reason for the Sixers staying in the game was the aggressive play of Ben Simmons. Simmons matched Young’s 10 points on 5 of 7 from the field.

In the second quarter, the Sixers’ bench had its best run in quite some time. Led by an ultra-active Dwight Howard (10 points, six rebounds), the reserves outscored the Hawks’ bench 22-9 in the first half.

The Sixers took their largest lead into the locker room, going up 65-46 at the half. The team was led by the usual suspects in Simmons (14 points, four rebounds, three assists), Joel Embiid (15 points) and Tobias Harris (11 points).

With center and rim protector Clint Capela getting in foul trouble, the Sixers were able to exploit a smaller Hawks lineup. Capela played less than seven minutes in the first half.

Atlanta couldn’t mount much of a comeback in the second half despite Young’s best efforts. He caught fire, scoring 16 of his game-high 32 points in the third and getting the Hawks within 17 to start the fourth.

It was Howard – who finished with a season and team-high 19 points and 11 rebounds – and the bench that extended the lead again. Shake Milton (13 points, four assists) and Matisse Thybulle (10 points, five assists, four steals) also played a large part in putting the game away.

The trio of Simmons, Embiid and Harris finished with 18 points apiece and didn’t have to play in the fourth quarter.

The Sixers head back out on the road this weekend for a funky back-to-back. They’ll be in San Antonio Sunday to take on the Spurs and then fly to Chicago for a matchup with the Bulls Monday.

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