This time, they found a way to win with a late surge.
Andre Iguodala had 25 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, Jason Kapono and Elton Brand each added 14 points, and the 76ers won consecutive games for the first time in more than six weeks with a 105-98 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
"We said at halftime we had to make this a little more exciting and a little more uptempo," Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said.
Samuel Dalembert scored 14 points off the bench, while Jrue Holiday recorded his second career double-double with 13 points and career highs of 12 assists and seven steals for the Sixers (26-47).
"I have a lot of confidence," Holiday said. "I'm feeling comfortable. I've been working on my defense more and more, and I think it translates over to my offensive game."
Marreese Speights got the start in place of Dalembert right before tip-off. After the game, Jordan said he benched Dalembert because he was late arriving at the arena.
Philadelphia hadn't won back-to-back games since posting a five-game win streak between Jan. 31-Feb. 9.
"We found a way to close a couple of games out in a row," Brand said. "We've struggled all year doing that. It's satisfying to do it twice in a row."
It was only the 12th home win for the Sixers, who own the third-fewest in the league behind Minnesota (nine) and New Jersey (five).
"We just didn't show up to play," Johnson said. "We acted like we could turn it on in the fourth quarter."
With a victory, the Hawks would have matched last season's total of 47. More importantly, they fell 4 1/2 games behind first-place Orlando in the Southeast Division.
"I'm very disappointed in the way we played," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "Our offense wasn't that bad, but we made a lot of mental mistakes."
After Johnson got Atlanta within 96-95 on a 3-pointer with 2:43 remaining, the Sixers responded with a 7-0 run. Dalembert scored four points during the spurt.
Smith scored 14 points in the third quarter and kept the Hawks close. His layup with 0.9 seconds left cut Philadelphia's lead to 80-75.
The Sixers increased it to 87-80, but the Hawks came right back with an 8-0 run to go ahead by one with 6:20 remaining.
"As players, we have to take it upon ourselves to come out with more intensity than we did," Johnson said.
The Hawks held a 51-49 advantage at halftime thanks largely to 13-for-16 shooting from the free throw line. The Sixers were only 6 for 11.
The Sixers played without guard Lou Williams (lower back) and forward Thaddeus Young (right thumb fracture). ... Smith was whistled for a technical foul with 25.3 seconds left in the third. ... The Sixers finished with 15 steals.