The Washington Wizards’ victories after the lottery bound Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks were not particularly pretty, but it got the job done. Next up was the difficult task of beating the Atlanta Hawks on the road where they have lost 14 of their lost 15. That record improved tonight as the Wizards had one of their best offensive performances post all-star break. In another balanced scoring attack, all five starters in double figures, the House of Guards poured in 52 points. Bradley Beal looked like his old Blue Magic self with 25 points as the Wizards pulled away late for a 117-102 victory over the playoff bound Hawks.
Washington got off to a hot start by making their first three field goals and jumping out to a 7-0 lead. The ball movement was superb in the early goings with seven assists on the Wizards first seven made field goals. Marcin Gortat led the charge with 6 of 8 shooting from the field in the opening quarter. The hot start did not continue as John Wall and Otto Porter combined for a miserable 3 of 13 shooting in the first quarter, while the Hawks hit four 3-pointers with inside-out passing. After twelve minutes of play the home team had a 30-27 edge by finishing the quarter on a 14-6 run.
Randy Wittman‘s second unit gave Washington some life while giving the stars a break, but Atlanta continued to match the efficient scoring. Bradley Beal led the way in the second quarter with an overall nine points in the half on just five shot attempts. The Wizards tied the game up midway through the quarter with a thunderous putback jam by Porter. Despite the Hawks nailing eight 3-pointers in the half, which showcased Al Horford’s passing skills with six assists in the first half, the road team had the 61-59 advantage at halftime.
Both Washington and Atlanta have been fairly efficient on the defensive end and lacking offensively post-all star break, but those roles were reversed for both teams tonight when a 3-point shootout broke out in the third quarter. Both sides knocked down five shots from beyond the arc. The Wizards started the second half the same way they did the first with a 7-0 run before Atlanta fought back. Beal knocked down 4 triples in the quarter, while Tim Hardaway Jr. had four through three quarters. Headed to the final quarter, Washington was clinging to an 89-86 lead.
The Wizards balanced scoring attack continued into the fourth quarter as the Philips Arena was dead silent when Washington started the final period on an 18-8 run to take a 13 points lead with just 3:10 remaining in the game. Porter rebounding intensity, 10 in the game, started paying off on the offensive end with seven points in the quarter. With another game during the now five-game winning streak, all starters were in double figures as the Wizards were an efficient 46 of 91 from the field. For just the second time in the last sixteen attempts, the Washington Wizards won in Atlanta; tonight by a count of 117-102.
The Wizards will get ready to host Atlanta at Verizon Center on Wednesday with a chance to get over .500 for the first time since November 24.