Both teams were desperately searching for a victory tonight, but the undermanned Atlanta Hawks simply didn’t have enough to beat the Washington Wizards tonight. Without Al Horford, Pero Antic, or Gustavo Ayon, the Hawks were forced to start Elton Brand at center, and needless to say, that didn’t work out tonight.
Washington didn’t outrebound the Hawks by an extremely large margin, but it was enough to make a difference, especially down the stretch. The Wizards had gained a 20 point lead in the first half behind Bradley Beal’s hot shooting, but that eventually wore off and the Hawks cut the lead to as little as one point. Once John Wall picked up the pace late in the third quarter, it was all but over for Atlanta. Wall finished the game with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 12 assists–and 0 turnovers. I didn’t like that he settled for jump shots at times, giving up lanes to the basket, but overall, I thought he played a terrific game. He also knocked down 3 of his 6 three-point shots, including a fadeaway to beat the buzzer. Wall did a great job at managing the game and he obviously did a wonderful job at taking care of the ball. Bradley Beal scored 19 points to go along with 6 assists and he really got it going once John Wall found him for some easy baskets in transition. Trevor Ariza also benefited from John Wall’s passing game tonight–scoring 19 points on 7 for 12 shooting. He also grabbed 9 rebounds. Ariza also made a ridiculous shot from well beyond half court to beat the buzzer.
Marcin Gortat made up for Nene’s sub par performance, putting up 14 points and 12 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action. Gortat picked up a few fouls early on, which forced Wittman to play Trevor Booker, and he didn’t disappoint. Booker chipped in with 12 of his own points, on 6-8 shooting. Elton Brand and Paul Millsap were outmatched athletically by Booker on the offensive side of the floor, but he also had 4 steals tonight. Booker helped spark the bench, which I thought played pretty well tonight, especially behind Martell Webster’s 13 points.
Overall, the Wizards got a quality win over the Hawks. Atlanta is missing plenty of players to injuries, and the Wizards made it a lot closer than it should’ve been. Teams are going to go on runs, so I can’t complain too much about the Wizards dropping a 20 point lead, but I do give them credit for bouncing back late in the game. It’s hard to win without a starting center and I’m glad the Wizards took advantage of Atlanta’s situation. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, and Marcin Gortat were all terrific tonight. Let’s hope this carries over for the rest of the season.