PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Even with Dwight Howard having an off game, Atlanta won easily.
And coach Mike Budenholzer said that’s a good sign for the Hawks.
Paul Millsap scored 17 points to lead five Hawks in double figures and Atlanta toppled the Philadelphia 76ers 104-72 on Saturday.
The Hawks barely needed top offseason acquisition Howard. The big man had just two points and seven rebounds in his second game for his hometown team after signing a three-year, $70 million free-agent contract this summer. The 31-year-old center had 19 rebounds and 11 points in Atlanta’s season-opening 114-99 win over Washington on Thursday.
“The great thing about adding Dwight to our group and something that Dwight is embracing and cherishing is that we play as a team,” Budenholzer said.
“Everybody steps up, everybody contributes. Dwight is going to have great, big nights. A day like today was maybe not his day. Muscala, Paul and Kris (Humphries) were great. It’s much more a positive than anything.”
Dennis Schroder displayed the playmaking ability the Hawks are counting on with him taking over for Jeff Teague as the team’s point guard. After getting two assists in the opener, Schroder had 11 to go with 11 points against Philadelphia.
The Hawks’ reserves (51 points) had nearly as many points (53) as the starters.
“It says a lot,” Millsap said. “Our bench is great. Our bench did a great job of coming in and sparking a nice, little run for us. This game, last game, they did a great job of doing that.”
Millsap scored four points during Atlanta’s 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter, capped by Muscala’s 17-foot jumper for an 82-60 lead.
After sitting out for two years because of a foot injury, Embiid dazzled the home crowd with 20 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes in Wednesday’s season-opening loss to Oklahoma City. The third overall pick in the 2014 draft, Embiid had trouble staying on the court in the opening half against Orlando.
Moments after chants of “Trust the process! Trust the process!” serenaded Embiid on the free-throw line, the crowd erupted in the second quarter when Embiid blocked Howard’s shot attempt.
Embiid had to go to the bench seconds later after picking up his third foul. The Hawks took advantage, outscoring Philadelphia 17-10 from that point to enter the intermission up 53-39.
Philadelphia could get only within 10 points in the third quarter on Jerami Grant‘s highlight-reel reverse dunk. But the Hawks scored eight of the final 10 points of the period to enter the fourth quarter ahead 74-58.
A day after apologizing for prohibiting R&B singer Sevyn Streeter from performing the national anthem at Wednesday’s opener because Streeter was wearing a “We Matter” T-shirt, the song went off without any incidents or protests prior to Saturday’s game. Mike Moore, a member of the team’s “Flight Squad,” performed the national anthem with no signs that anything was amiss.
DeAndre Bembry had two points for Atlanta. The rookie is a product of nearby Saint Joseph’s. He received cheers when he entered with just under six minutes left.
Bembry said he had “a bunch of people” in attendance from St. Joe’s. One thing he didn’t have while back in Philadelphia, though, was a cheesesteak due to the recent removal of a wisdom tooth.
Embiid, on a minutes restriction because of his foot injury, played 15 minutes.
“With the minutes he played, he clearly helped us,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said. “We’re looking forward to him playing more minutes.”
Hawks: Millsap, a three-time All-Star, is averaging a team-best 22.5 points per game through two games. … Atlanta nearly doubled Philadelphia in assists, with 31 to the 76ers’ 16.
76ers: Philadelphia, which started 0-18 on the way to a 10-72 mark last season, looks for its first win with its third straight home game to start the season, Tuesday against the Magic. Five of the 76ers’ first six games are at home. Philadelphia is playing without three starters because of injury: Jerryd Bayless (wrist), Nerlens Noel (knee) and 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons (foot).