Despite Jordan Crawford’s triple double, the Washington Wizards (3-19) lost in yet another nail-biter, this time to the Atlanta Hawks (15-7) in overtime by a score of 100-95.
Tuesday night’s game marked the third of four meetings between the two teams this season but, in spite of any familiarity factor, the Wizards failed to find the formula for shutting down Atlanta. As a result, the Hawks are a perfect 3-0 against the Wizards this season.
“I wake up every morning to make sure the sky is up there, that it’s not falling in on me,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after the loss in regards to Washington’s 3-19 record. “Trust me, this has not been fun. We’re continuing to fight. We’re going to continue to try again.”
On the bright side, a large fraction of the 15,123 in attendance at the Verizon Center seemed to have fun, at least during portions of the night.
After all, Jordan Crawford tallied a season-high 27 points, as well as 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Bradley Beal earned another 17 points and five rebounds, and Earl Barron tacked on an additional 14 boards and four blocked shots for Washington. To add to that, the Wizards allowed Nene 24 minutes of playing time – four more minutes than the limit set for him due to his left foot injury.
However, the end result was an all-too-familiar tale for Wizards fans.
While the Wizards shot 52.9% from the field in the first quarter, they also allowed the Hawks to net 28 points.
Yet, things continued to click for Crawford, Beal and company. Trailing 35-34, Emeka Okafor – who otherwise had a sub-par night – bounced to Crawford, who then managed a picture-perfect layup to put the Wizards on top. Almost more importantly than the go-ahead shot itself was the obvious momentum change that occurred as the Wizards moved the ball quickly – and with much-needed precision – in the quarter.
Although the Wizards soon forfeited the lead, they kept it within six at the buzzer to end the half.
Trailing 52-46 in the third, Crawford continued to light up the court. He scrambled ahead of the Hawks’ defense in time to pitch it to Martell Webster for the alley oop to make it 52-48 Hawks. Then, Crawford returned the lead to Washington by tacking on eight more points via a jump shot and two stellar three-pointers.
All tied up at 58 points apiece, Beal drove for the net but, instead, found Josh Smith, who blocked the shot. Beal collided with Smith and hit the hardwood with such force, he remained on the floor for several moments before walking off the court to eventually head to the locker room. After the game, Beal noted that he had been administered a test for a concussion and passed, allowing him to return off the bench in the fourth quarter.
Immediately after the collision, however, Jeff Teague sank a three-pointer and then tore through the Wizards’ defense for a driving dunk before Smith added a layup of his own to give the Hawks a 65-58 cushion.
With the Wizards trailing just 74-73 in the fourth, Beal returned to the game, despite showing signs of pain on a few occasions as he pressed his hand to his back. His presence, nonetheless, was a welcomed sight as he and Crawford kept things close in the final minutes of regulation.
But, the Wizards had to battle to overcome missed opportunities. By the end of the night, the only player with a plus/minus on the positive side for the Wizards was Nene with +9, which meant the defense had to come up big – and for some time, it did. Offensively, the Wizards kept good movement on the ball, controlled the pace throughout much of the game and managed crucial chase-downs to maintain possession.
“The way we play, you would think – giving ourselves a fighting chance in all of these games – that [our 3-19] record should be flipped,” said Martell Webster after the game. “But, the reality is what it is. We got to continue to grind and continue to work together and fight for one another.”
And, fight they did.
With seven minutes left to go, Beal managed a steal off Josh Smith, but the Wizards struggled to find the net. However, they communicated well on the court and tossed to one another, tallying rebound after rebound until nearly a full minute later when Crawford finally found the net – from 26 feet away – to put the Wizards up 82-80.
If any one play killed hope for a Wizards’ win in regulation, however, it was Beal’s personal foul with just under five minutes left, which allowed Louis Williams to shoot – and sink – three free throws. Although the Wizards came back to tie it, the Hawks maintained momentum and, with 43 seconds left, Williams himself shot a picture-perfect three. Not 20 seconds later, Barron – of all people – tied it for the Wizards, and the Hawks failed to nail down a shot to end the game in regulation.
Unfortunately for Washington, the Wizards didn’t continue to carry the momentum of the game beyond the first 48 minutes. Beyond a free throw from Nene and a jumper by Barron in overtime, the Wizards trailed throughout the five extra minutes of playing time before falling to the Hawks, 100-95.
The Wizards will travel to Orlando, where they will face the Magic Wednesday at 7:00p.m.