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Depleted Hawks hold off 76ers

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Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 10 of his 15 points in the final four minutes and the short-handed Atlanta Hawks held off the Philadelphia 76ers 98-96 on Thursday as the NBA continued to grapple with a Covid-19 surge.

The Hawks were without seven players because of Covid-19 concerns, but they still managed to pull off the upset in Philadelphia, where Sixers star Joel Embiid missed a potential tying shot as time expired.

Bogdanovic, who missed his first 10 shots, came off the bench and drained a three-pointer with 3:44 left to play that put the Hawks up 91-90.

He added a free throw and three more baskets as the Hawks, who had lost seven of their last 10, came up with an impressive win on the second night of a back-to-back.

“This is what we have to be about,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “This

is a game that we want to build off of.”

“With all the things that have happened here in the last, really, month of the season, coming to Philly on a back-to-back, a good team that has had our number this year, these guys responded to the challenge of getting up and playing harder and playing together and playing for 48 minutes,” he said.

Cam Reddish scored 18 points and John Collins had 17 for the Hawks, whose seven Covid absentees included star Trae Young.

The Sixers also had their absentees — four of them because of Covid — fielding their 17th different starting lineup of the season.

Virtually every team in Thursday’s 11 games was affected by the rise in cases, which has seen a raft of players drafted into action from the developmental G-League and backup players called on to carry the load.

Kemba Walker, benched for nine games by New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, scored 44 points in a performance that recalled his four All-Star nods.

It wasn’t enough, however, as the Knicks fell 124-117 to the Washington Wizards — who lost Bradley Beal to Covid health protocols earlier Thursday.

The Madison Square Garden crowd was chanting Walker’s name after his 28 first-half points, but the Knicks lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

Spencer Dinwiddie scored 21 points to lead the Wizards. Corey Kispert added 20 as seven Washington players scored in double figures.

Meanwhile, the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, still without two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo because of Covid concerns, rallied to beat the even more depleted Mavericks in Dallas 102-95.

All-Stars Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday led the Bucks, Middleton scoring 26 points on eight-of-14 shooting and Holiday 24.

DeMarcus Cousins added 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds as the Bucks erased a 10-point first-half deficit and held off a Mavs team that had seven players — including star Luka Doncic — sidelined because of Covid.

Although Dallas’s roster was almost half-filled with replacement players signed in the last four days, Jason Kidd’s team led for most of the first three quarters before the Bucks pulled away in the fourth.

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