On Monday night, the Washington Wizards snapped the Atlanta Hawks’ five game winning streak. Last night, the Hawks returned the favor by ending the Wizards’ newly acquired five game winning streak with a 122-101 victory in Washington. The Hawks were led by Dennis Schröder’s 23 points, while the Wizards were led by Marcus Thornton’s 23 points.
The Hawks haven’t fared too well in these ‘home and away’ fixtures this season. After winning two straight against Charlotte in their third and fourth games of the season, the Hawks dropped both of their home and away games against the Knicks and the Magic. Having dropped the first game of this home and away sled, the Hawks treated this game as a revenge game.
“…Guys might not say that but in my mind, we had to come out and get this. We did and it feels good.” — Al Horford
“It was a pride thing. We didn’t like the way we played (Monday). Obviously, they played well in Atlanta. It was definitely good to come out and win the game and get a little bit of revenge.” — Thabo Sefolosha
“Yeah, you can’t let a team beat you twice. It’s a tough league but as a team, as a team that wants to be great, you’ve got to take some pride in that. We took a little pride in that tonight. We came out and played angry and came out with the win.” — Paul Millsap
The victory sees the Hawks return to third seed (tied with Boston), in what is a very tightly contested race for home court advantage between Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, and Boston.
Second half difference
The Wizards held a four point lead heading into the third quarter, and it seemed as though the two teams would head into the fourth quarter as they started the third. The Hawks and Wizards traded baskets for most of the third quarter, until the Hawks flicked the switch. This switch saw them finish the third quarter on a 14-5 run — led by Dennis Schröder’s heroics in the third. He single handedly flipped this game on its head, scoring eight points and dishing out an assist in the final 4:46 of the third quarter. The Hawks would take a six point lead into the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, that switch the Hawks pressed in the third quarter was jammed on and the Hawks began the fourth quarter on another run, scoring 17 points in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter — one point more than they managed in the entire fourth quarter on Monday. In those first four minutes, the Hawks caught fire from beyond the arc — hitting four of their five three-point attempts. What was an easily surmountable six point deficit for the Wizards at the start of the fourth quickly turned into a 15 point hole in a matter of minutes.
The Hawks would go on to score 41 points in the fourth, and outscored the Wizards 70-35 in the second half. As Al Horford mentioned after the game, the Hawks made shots — including a season high 17 three-pointers.
“We made shots. We made a lot of shots, the most 3’s we made all season. That helps. But definitely our defense. We just go more aggressive. We changed our strategy a little bit. That was the biggest difference.” — Al Horford
In the second half:
The Hawks shot 64.3% in the second half (compared to the Wizards’ 36.4%), shot 45% from behind the arc (36.8% for the Wizards), turned the ball over just nine times (compared to Washington’s 13 second half turnovers), scored 18 points off of those turnovers (compared to the Wizards’ two), and scored 16 fast break points (compared to Washington’s two).
Coach Mike Budenholzer praised his bench players for this second half turnaround, and was happy to pick up a victory.
“I think the defense in the second half, we got a little better place and the competitiveness, really the whole game, just went to another level in the third and fourth quarter. Then I think we found a rhythm offensively. Dennis (Schroder) was great. Dennis and Al (Horford) in the pick-and-roll. Tim Hardaway off the bench was really good. Thabo (Sefolosha) off the bench defensively. It’s a good win on the road. They got us the other night. It was good for us to bounce back.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Both Al Horford and Tim Hardaway Jr. both acknowledged that the Wizards made shots and played better on Monday, but noted that their defense was the difference between the two games.
“Well, they were hot shooting Monday. You have to give them credit. They played really good basketball Monday. Today, I felt like they came out real aggressive as well but we were a little more aggressive on the defensive end, especially in the second half and it totally switched the game around.” — Al Horford
“On Monday, they flat-out played better than us. They made a lot of tough shots that game and some shots they were supposed to make. Today, we just wanted to focus on the defensive end and be more locked-in. And when we get stops, make sure we secure the ball and get out in transition.” — Tim Hardaway Jr.
Meanwhile, Wizards’ head coach Randy Wittman believed his team were always a step behind.
“We were just one step behind everything. Our switches weren’t good. We weren’t on the same pace. Just really different from Monday.” — Coach Randy Wittman
Dennis the Menace
Dennis Schröder came up with one of his better performances of the season last night. He finished with 23 points (on 7-of-9 shooting), eight assists, four rebounds, and a steal in just 20 minutes of action. Schröder also knocked down one three-pointer (from a total of two attempts) and shot 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
Similar to the recent victory against Detroit, Schröder came up with some big plays in the third quarter that changed the game. But instead of helping erase a double digit deficit as he did in Detroit, this Schröder show put the Hawks in prime position to launch themselves away from the Wizards in the fourth quarter
Schröder didn’t finish his work in the third quarter though. In the fourth quarter he added four more points, but it was the five assists he dished out that helped the Hawks run away from the Wizards. When the Hawks started knocking down three-pointers from every which direction, it opened up the floor for the Hawks.
I told Mike (Scott) to shoot every chance he gets. He made some open 3’s. It was open for us, after the pick-and-roll too. When we make our 3-point shots it opens everything up.” — Dennis Schröder
Coach Bud echoed a similar statement — when the Hawks make shots, it opens up so much for Schröder to work his magic.
“I thought he was great. His attack. His aggressiveness. It’s always a little bit of both. Paul (Millsap) made some shots. Mike Scott made some shots. Al (Horford) made some shots. Now they are a little worried about those guys and Dennis can attack. It’s a little bit of a yin and yang between making shots and getting to the paint.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Wizards’ point guard, John Wall, admitted that the Wizards could live with Schröder making jump shots, but not when he got out into open court.
“He played the same way. He just came in and made some jump shots early on. It’s something we live with. But then he started getting out in the open court and finding guys.”— John Wall
Containing John Wall and Bradley Beal
After Monday night’s loss, Coach Bud said he could live with Wall making jump shots, but wanted to take away the Bradley Beal shots and make things tougher for him. On Monday night, Wall and Beal combined for 52 points. Their hot three-point shooting were contributing factors as to how the Wizards won in Atlanta
“…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 speaking after Monday’s loss against the Wizards.
Last night, however, the two combined for just 20 points on 8-of-25 shooting. Marcus Thornton, on his own, outscored Wall and Beal off the bench last night.
While Wall was still able to get his teammates involved — dishing out 10 assists — Beal could not get anything going. He scored just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting in 31 minutes. He couldn’t find any clean opportunities to let it fly, and when he had a semi-open shot he couldn’t convert. Coach Bud wanted to take away Beal’s three-pointers and make things tougher for him and he got his wish. Beal only shot one three-pointer and missed it. A lot of this has to do with Bud deploying Thabo Sefolosha to guard Wall (who would try to set up Beal) and Beal throughout the game.
“Thabo, his length, his instincts, his defensive I.Q. is so high. He guarded (John) Wall a lot and he guarded (Bradley) Beal some also. He is just a unique defender with his length and his understanding.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
The Hawks didn’t find themselves plastered to Marcin Gortat’s screens as much as they found themselves on Monday, and were able to close out Wall and Beal sooner.
While the Hawks shut down Beal, they still allowed John Wall to take jump shots. The Hawks often went under screens to cut off the driving lane to the rim, where he is most effective. If you look at his shot chart from last night, eight of his 17 field goal attempts were jump shots — he only converted two.
The Hawks’ ability to limit one of the best backcourts in the entire league was a huge factor as to why the Hawks emerged from Washington victorious.
Strange/untrue Wizards comments
There were two comments to come out of the Wizards’ camp last night that I thought were simply not true. This first one comes from Randy Wittman.
“They had more offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone than they did in the entire game in Atlanta. That was really the difference. Not anything new or different than they did Monday.” — Coach Randy Wittman
OK, while the Hawks grabbed three offensive rebounds in the first half (more than the two they managed for the entire game on Monday), they only scored three second chance points in the first quarter. For the game, the Hawks grabbed seven offensive rebounds for 11 second chance points –six more than they came up with on Monday. So, to say that was the difference is simply not true.
To be fair to Wittman, the difference wasn’t what the Hawks did but what the Wizards did. The Wiz committed 18 turnovers last night compared to Monday’s nine. Monday’s low number of turnovers were a huge key as to why the Wizards won Monday’s game — the Hawks could only manage nine points off of turnovers on Monday. But thanks to the Wizards’ sloppiness — and Paul Millsap’s ******* amazing hands — the Hawks managed to score 25 points off of Washington’s turnovers last night. That was the real difference, Randy, not three second chance points in the first quarter.
The second quote comes from Garrett Temple.
“I take responsibility for Schroder going off. We tried to go under a lot of screens and Schroder got into the paint, made some layups, then he started feeling good and made some jump shots.” — Garrett Temple
By “Schröder going off”, I’m going to assume he means Schröder’s third quarter burst — which we’ve already talked about. If he is, he’s wrong to take responsibility. Firstly, Temple only played four minutes for the entire game. You can’t be responsible for someone going off if you play only four minutes in a game — unless you literally leave them open the entire time, which he didn’t. Secondly, he guarded Schröder for one possession that Schröder scored on in the third quarter and, by this point, had already just knocked down a three-pointer.
If he’s talking about Schröder going off for 23 points, he’s also wrong to take responsibility. Temple only guarded Schröder for one possession that he scored on in the first quarter, which was a tough shot near the rim — not a jump shot. Maybe John Wall (who went under screens daring Schröder to shoot) or Jared Dudley (who sagged off Schröder and fouled on an ‘and one’) should’ve taken responsibility here. I got your back, Garrett Temple.