PHILADELPHIA — These are not the old Atlanta Hawks anymore.
No, this young group of high-flying Hawks sure seems headed to the playoffs for the first time since the 1998-99 season. They hold a 3 1/2-game lead over Indiana for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Joe Johnson scored 22 points, Josh Smith added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Hawks built a big lead and held off the Philadelphia 76ers 92-85 on Saturday night.
Marvin Williams contributed 18 points, Al Horford had 10 points and 12 rebounds, and Mike Bibby had 10 points for the Hawks (36-41), who responded after losing to the Sixers 109-104 on Friday in Atlanta.
Atlanta's 36th win was its most since accumulating 50 in the 1997-98 season.
"We're a young team, but we play with poise," Johnson said. "Mike (Bibby) and I are the only guys who have been to the playoffs, but the young guys are stepping up. I'm having a great time."
The Hawks won for only the 11th time on the road this season, improving to 11-27.
"It means we're growing as a team," coach Mike Woodson said. "These guys are growing up and they're playing for something. I'm so proud of the guys."
Andre Iguodala scored 25 points for Philadelphia, which had clinched a playoff berth for the first time in three years with Friday's win. Andre Miller added 18, Lou Williams and Rodney Carney had 13 apiece and Samuel Dalembert had 10 rebounds for the 76ers (39-38), who had their two-game winning streak snapped. Still, they have won 21 of their last 29 games.
"The game was flat," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We couldn't get into the rhythm that we were in before. I think we expended a lot of energy (Friday) night, realizing where we were and where we were trying to get to."
After Cleveland lost to Orlando on Saturday, the Sixers could have climbed within two games of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Instead, they fell from fifth to sixth pending the outcome of the Washington-Chicago game.
"We're not scoreboard watching," Williams said. "We'll be fine. We'll keep working. The Hawks are a good basketball team and they took it to us."
Atlanta led 70-57 after the third quarter and maintained an advantage throughout the fourth. The Sixers chipped away and cut it to 90-85 on a 3-pointer by Carney with 1:20 remaining.
But the Hawks took advantage of an offensive rebound by Horford and soon sealed the win on a jumper by Bibby with 34 seconds left.
"Bibby stepped up and a made a couple of big buckets down the end that were huge," Woodson said.
Atlanta led by as many as 12 points in the first half and cruised to a 55-44 advantage at halftime thanks to 56 percent shooting from the field.
Willie Green, Reggie Evans and Dalembert combined to miss all 10 of their field goals for the Sixers. Green was 0-for-7.
<B>Notes:<P> Sixers public address announcer Matt Cord missed the game, his first absence in 11 years. Cord was recovering from neck injuries suffered in a car accident. Tom Lamaine filled in. The Hawks outrebounded Philadelphia 42-33.