The Washington Wizards snapped the Atlanta Hawks’ five game winning streak (so the ‘HaWWWWWks’ W’s disappear on Twitter, sadly) after triumphing over the Hawks 117-102.
Led by John Wall’s 27 points and 14 assists, the win puts the Wizards back in the playoff hunt with a .500 record — 35-35. The Hawks, meanwhile, were led by Jeff Teague’s 23 points, and Al Horford’s near triple double of 14 points, nine rebounds, and a season high nine assists.
The bottom line
Sometimes, in a loss, we try and pick at tiniest details as to why the Hawks lost, but that just isn’t necessary here. The bottom line is this — the Wizards just played better.
They scored more points (obviously), out rebounded the Hawks (44-33), dished out more assists (27-23), took more shots than the Hawks (91 FGA-78 FGA), turned the ball over less (9 TO’s-14 TO’s), came up with more steals (10 STLS-5 STLS), shot a better percentage from the field (50.5%-48.7%), shot a better three-point percentage (52%-39.4%), scored more second chance points (15-5), scored more points off of turnovers (14-9), scored more points in fast break situations (14-7), scored more points in the paint (36-34), held a lead as large as 16 (edging the Hawks’ largest lead of six), and never trailed in the second half.
I would say that’s a pretty comprehensive win for the Wizards, who are rolling — now winners of five straight.
Coach Bud gave the Wizards credit, and knows that adjustments will have to be made before the Hawks take on the Wizards again on Wednesday in Washington.
“Lot of credit to Washington. They played well. They shot the ball well. So, I think it wasn’t one of our better nights. I’m sure they had a lot to do with that. So between now and Wednesday, we can look at some film and see where we can be better. Hopefully, make it more difficult for them. It’s a little bit unique in that we get to see them again on Wednesday and get back to work.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Kent Bazemore — who had a rough night shooting from the three-point line (0-of-4) — conceded that the Wizards were just better on the night, but believes that the Hawks will bounce back.
“It wasn’t our best effort. You have to give them credit though. They played really well. They out-hustled us. Their energy was much higher than ours. It’s just one game. Look at our track record the last couple games. We’ve been doing really well. So, we’ll bounce back.” — Kent Bazemore
Jeff Teague had similar words to say about the loss, highlighting Washington’s made shots, better pace, and better play.
“They made shots. They played well. They played fast. They outplayed us.” — Jeff Teague
The Hawks have a chance for instant revenge on Wednesday in Washington.
Fourth quarter difference
This game was finely poised in the fourth, but the difference was that Wizards were able to knock down shots in the fourth quarter, as they outscored the Hawks 28-16 in the final period. The Wizards also attempted eight more shots than the Hawks (24-16 FGA) in the fourth quarter. While the Hawks couldn’t knock down any of their five three-point attempts, the Wizards were able to hit three of their six threes.
The Wizards also took care of the ball in the fourth — committing just one turnover compared to the Hawks’ five. The Wizards made sure the Hawks paid for their carelessness — scoring nine points off of those five turnovers.
The Wizards were also able to secure three offensive rebounds in the period and, while that is a small number, they were able to pull a rabbit from the hat with them. From just three offensive rebounds — again, all in the final period — the Wizards scored eight second chance points.
All of these things add up…
Lack of turnovers to feed off of
We all know that the Hawks are one of the best teams in the league when it comes to scoring off of the oppositions’ turnovers. You might look at the Hawks’ nine points off of Washington’s turnovers and think “what gives?”. Well, to actually score off of those turnovers, the opposing team has to actually turn the ball over. The Wizards committed just nine turnovers last night — a far cry from the 25 that they committed when they visited Atlanta back in early November.
Because of the low number of turnovers, the Hawks could only score nine points off of those turnovers — losing out on points they normally account for. Wizards’ head coach, Randy Wittman, noted that this was the difference in the game.
“Looking back on our first game, that was the difference. To have nine turnovers was fantastic. The movement of the ball was really good. We made simple plays.” — Coach Randy Wittman
“When we don’t turn the ball over we let our half-court defense get set.” — John Wall
The Wizards only committed one turnover in the fourth quarter, leaving the Hawks with nothing to feed off in that department. At the end of the day, when a team takes care of the ball, you have to give them credit — especially this Wizards team who turned the ball over 25 times, leading to 33 points off of turnovers, when they last played the Hawks.
The Marcin Gortat effect
I made sure to check out the quotes to come out of the Hawks’ locker room last night before watching this game, just to see what I should look out for. I saw some Hawks players praising the screening ability of Marcin Gortat. I thought to myself, “OK, make sure you watch Gortat often this game”. And he really is something else when setting those screens. He absorbs bodies, and puts real distance between the man he screens and his ball handling teammate — usually John Wall. Wall and Beal would not have combined for 52 points if it were not for Marcin Gortat being able to free those guys space.
I’m not used to seeing multiple guys from a team compliment the screening of a player from the opposing team.
“I’ll tell you what, they are one of the best screen setting teams in the league. They really are. I think (Marcin) Gortat does a really good job of finding the line of legal and illegal. He’s always right there. He’s a great screen setter. They flared Bradley Beal a few times and he got open. — Kyle Korver
“Gortat is the best screen-setter in the league. I’ve never seen anything like it.” — Jeff Teague
I’m in agreement here, especially having watched it for myself. Gortat is just able to glue guys to him with his screening — like a bug that flies into a spider’s web. Stuck.
Washington’s hot three-point shooting
The Wizards were hot from behind the arc last night — 52% from deep on 13-25 shooting. The Wizards backcourt duo of Bradley Beal and John Wall shot a combined 8-of-11 from behind the arc — when John Wall is knocking down threes it’s bad news for the opposition.
Coach Bud commented on the Wizards’ hot shooting night from behind the arc.
“I’m looking at 13 of 25 for the team and 8 of 11 from those two (from 3-point range), that’s 52 percent from the 3-point line. Beal, a couple of them I thought were tough. A couple of them he go separation from us and was open. Wall, he’s so good getting to the paint you probably have to pick your poison. He hit a couple 3’s. A couple of them were in scramble and rebound situations. The Beal ones we’d like to take away, be more connected, make it tougher on him. Both those guys played really well tonight.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
The Hawks themselves shot an impressive 39% from behind the arc, but when the opposition shoots 50+% from downtown it’s going to be tough.
Hardaway Jr.’s hot shooting continues
After producing back-to-back 20 point performances, Hardaway provided the spark that the Hawks really needed — Kyle Korver only attempted two field goal attempts in 19 minutes of play.
Hardaway produced 16 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting and 4-of-5 from behind the arc. His confidence is oozing, and you can see it every time he’s on the court. And, if you look at the numbers, you can see why. Over his last three games he’s now averaging 19 points (on 63.3% from the field), and is shooting 68.8% on his three-pointers.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.