The Atlanta Hawks dropped their fifth consecutive game in a tightly contested affair against the Washington Wizards in D.C. on Wednesday night. For the Wizards, they were led by Bradley Beal’s 28 points.
The Hawks had done a decent defensive job on John Wall, who was scoreless in the first half on 0-of-8 shooting but came to life in the second half, all 22 of Wall’s points coming in the second half. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Hawks with 29 points.
The Hawks retain the fifth seed in the East despite this loss after the Indiana Pacers lost in Boston on Wedneday night but there’s a new threat for the Hawks to worry about: The Milwaukee Bucks, winners of 10 games in their last 12. With the Bucks’ victory against the Kings, the Bucks move to just one game behind the Hawks and have wrestled the sixth seed away from the Pacers.
Atlanta’s next game? Yep. The Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee… What a huge game that will be.
Key stretch in the fourth dooms Hawks
This game was tied at 67-67 heading into the final period and the Hawks held a 76-72 lead with 8:56 remaining after Kris Humphries followed through a putback dunk off of a missed layup by Mike Dunleavy. From there, it was all Washington. The Wizards reeled off a 19-4 run and took a commanding 11 point lead with 4:52 on the clock before taking a 12 point lead with 3:35 left. The Hawks did what they could and, to their credit, fought until the very end — cutting the lead to three points with 1:07 left — but, in the end, the margin was too much to overcome.
Turnovers were a huge problem in the fourth quarter. The Hawks committed five fourth quarter turnovers, all of them coming after that 8:56 mark and the Wizards turned those into nine points. For the entire game, the Hawks committed 16 turnovers (10 of them courtesy of Dennis Schröder) and the Wizards scored 21 points off of those.
“In general, we had too many turnovers tonight. We have to take care of the ball. It felt like a couple times we settled for average shots. We didn’t keep attacking. I think the offensive rebounds, it was a one-point game and they got three or four possession on one possession because of offensive rebounds and then the next time they had the ball they got another offensive rebound. Between not taking care of the ball and not taking care of the defensive rebounds it led to the run.”
— Coach Mike Budenholzer
Ultimately, it was the turnovers the Hawks committed in the fourth quarter which really cost them, which was a shame because they played very well against a good Wizards team who were having a bit of an off night, it must be said.
It was a very even game: both teams shot 40% (the Hawks technically shot 39.5%), both teams shot 32% from three, both scored 13 second chance points, both scored 12 fastbreak points, the largest lead help by both teams was 12 points, the Hawks registered 20 assists compared to the Wiz’s 23, the Hawks came up with 11 steals while the Wiz came up with 9, the Hawks blocked five shots while the Wizards blocked six and the Hawks bench scored 24 points while the Wizards’ bench scored 27 points.
It really was a very even game and the Hawks probably should’ve taken advantage of a Wizards team that have been struggling of late but, shorthanded as they were, the Hawks can hold their heads high despite the loss.
“You see both positives and negatives. All in all we got better. Coach says we got better. I think as an individual and as a team we did get better. We have to continue to compete.”
— Tim Hardaway Jr.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they now drop to 0-6 without Paul Millsap and Bud dipped deep into his bench, rolling out both Kris Humphries and Mike Muscala in the first quarter in search of production. In the absence of Millsap, you can expect to see Bud roll with Moose and Humphries.
“We are probably going to need Muskie and Hump until Paul is back. Ersan had a little bit of foul trouble and I think we looked a little better with small ball and so we didn’t use Muskie in the second half. Unless the matchups don’t dictate it, we are probably going to need both those guys. I think I need to put them out there more.”
— Coach Mike Budenholzer
More bench struggles
While the Hawks’ bench were only outscored by three points this time around (27-24), they were, once again, comprehensively outplayed. The Hawks’ bench registered a plus/minus rating of minus+50 while the Wizards’ bench was plus-61. Taurean Prince struggled a bit, seven points on 3-of-8 shooting 1-of-4 from behind the arc and a plus/minus rating of minus+15. Ian Mahinmi, meanwhile, played a great game for the Wizards last night. Defensively, Mahinmi was excellent and even kept Marcin Gortat on the bench as the Wizards made their run. In the end, Mahinmi ended with a plus/minus rating of plus-22.
It’s a shame that the Hawks’ bench couldn’t help the starters because the Hawks’ starters (though Ersan Ilyasova struggled with foul trouble) played pretty well. In fact, the entire Hawks’ starting unit actually registered positive rating in plus/minus while Bradley Beal was the only starting Wizard to register a positive plus/minus rating with plus-5
And, to be fair to the Hawks, the Wizards do possess one of the better benches in this league: Brandon Jennings, Kelly Oubre, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi. The Hawks’ bench would do a better job competing with the Wizards’ bench if the Hawks had their full compliment of players available and, hence, their entire bench unit available but it is what it is without Millsap and Bazemore.
Dennis’ struggles continue
Dennis Schröder has had a rough go of things in the last five games, as KL Chouinard sums up on Twitter.
Over the last five games, D. Schröder has averaged 5.8 field goals per game on a team-high 17.0 field goal attempts per game (34.1 percent).
— KL Chouinard (@KLChouinard) March 23, 2017
It was a rough night for Dennis, once again. Yes, he scored 18 points but on 5-of-16 shooting from the field and committed 10 turnovers.
To clarify, Dennis Schröder is the first Hawk since 1983-84 to commit 10 turnovers in a game. (Per @bball_ref)
— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) March 23, 2017
You could argue that Dennis was the reason the Hawks lost this game, he had some rough turnovers in the fourth quarter which led to Washington points which, as we already discussed, were very important especially in the fourth quarter.
Dennis’ form has dipped at exactly the wrong time, both with the time of the year it is (the Hawks in a playoff race) and with the team’s leading scorer sidelined. Worrying times indeed for Dennis Schröder, who hasn’t exactly had the best time of things since the All-Star break.
There was at least some good news for the Hawks, Mike Dunleavy made his return to action having missed the last 12 games with an ankle injury. Dunleavy looked O.K., scoring nine points on 3-of-7 shooting and 2-of-3 from three-point range. Dunleavy also reached the 11,000 point plateau with this layup:
This layup makes 11,000 career points for Mike 👏 pic.twitter.com/zcDd7r0fZV
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 23, 2017
Fox Sports Southeast had a nice breakdown Dunleavy’s 11,000 points shortly afterwards:
11,000 career points for Mike Dunleavy. Here's the breakdown: pic.twitter.com/4pRkvfoJbP
— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 23, 2017
It’s good to have Dunleavy back, the Hawks could use all the bodies they can get with Bazemore and Millsap on the sidelines.
Thabo “Reggie” Sefolosha?
Thabo Sefolosha channeled an inner Reggie Miller. After scoring a layup, Thabo immediately steals the inbounds pass and hits a three-pointer.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 23, 2017
Sure. Alright then.
The Hawks (37-34) wrap up their three game road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks in what is a huge game in terms of seeding.