Jalen Johnson led the Atlanta Hawks to a 139-132 overtime win over Tyrese Maxey and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night in a duel between the presumed Most-Improved-Player candidates.
Both Johnson and Maxey had big games to strengthen their case for the end-of-season award, but it was Johnson and the Hawks who came out on top in the high-scoring affair.
The 6-foot-9 forward out of Duke put up 25 points and set career-highs in rebounds (16) and assists (7), while also chipping in 3 threes, 2 blocks and a steal. Johnson had a big three and two free throws in overtime to seal the win.
Maxey tallied 35 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals. He had a wild stretch in the fourth where he blew by Trae Young for a huge dunk, got a stop against Dejounte Murray and then hit a stepback three in Murray’s face to give the Sixers the lead. However, he turned the ball over late and then fouled out in OT.
The Sixers were again playing without reigning MVP Joel Embiid and are now 2-9 without him in the lineup. After losing three-straight games, Philadelphia is now 23-13, which is the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta has underwhelmed thus far with a 15-21 record, which is No. 11 in the East.