The end of the regular season is finally here. The Washington Wizards came into their season finale against the Atlanta Hawks with nothing to play for besides pride and a .500 record to end the year. Randy Wittman, reported to be relieved of his duties soon, believes the team (of those that will be available) is ready to play. The reserves that did play certainly played hard and seemed to play with more energy and hustle than an Atlanta team that had something to play for. Ramon Sessions led the way with 22 points as Washington headed into the offseason on a slight positive note. The Wizards finished the season 41-41 after a 109-98 victory over the Hawks.
After a game of zero defense in Brooklyn, that trend looked to continue for Washington as they were able to score at will without getting stops on the other end. With the majority of Wizards starters sitting, all except Otto Porter, Nene took advantage of starting with eight first quarter points on four of five shooting. Tim Hardaway continued to be a thorn in Washington’s side by making his first three shots, all of which were from beyond the arc. At the end of the final first quarter of the season, things were tied at 33 as the Verizon Center faithful were deprived of one last Egg McMuffin.
Even though the Hawks were battling with important seeding implications on the line, they could not get the Wizards off their back. The second quarter featured eight lead changes and nine times tied as both sides cooled off from the field. Washington shot 8 of 24 (33.3 percent) in the quarter while Atlanta was slightly better at 7 of 19 (36.8 percent). An extended 17-9 run midway through the quarter allowed the Hawks to grab a marginal advantage that they hung onto at halftime with the score 59-57.
The few Wizards that were available and on the court were certainly giving 110 percent effort. Garrett Temple had the highlight of the game with a huge dunk that Thabo Sefolosha wanted nothing of. However, everything started on the defensive end for the home team. The Hawks were held to 6 of 22 (27.3 percent) shooting from the field in the third quarter. Such intensity helped the Wizards force eight turnovers in the quarter that fueled a 20-3 run. The one time Washington 15 point lead was cut down to 84-76 headed into the final quarter of the 2015-16 season.
Atlanta was not so kind to the home team in the fourth quarter as it took Washington over three minutes to get on the scoreboard. After the Hawks 7-0 run to pull within a single point, we were blessed with Kelly Oubre minutes after Porter was ruled “questionable” (which meant out in this instance) with a hamstring injury. Oubre hit a highlight reel dunk midway through the quarter to spark a Washington 11-2 run to push the lead back up to double digits. The Wizards would end the season on a three-game winning streak with a 109-98 victory over the playoff bound and division rival Hawks.
The Wizards will now prepare for the 2016-17 season with potential changes at head coach and general manager, less likely, before getting ready to make a run at major free agents.