Washington Wizards picked up a blowout victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, inching closer to the fourth seed in the East.
This season, the Washington Wizards have built an unnecessary reputation for making comebacks.
For some reason, Scott Brooks‘ club has failed to start games with the same amount of energy that they close with. The team has found themselves down by double-digits plenty of times this season, only to complete a late comeback.
But lately, the Wizards have put together a complete 48 minutes.
Against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, the Wizards started the game with a 8-1 run. The team moved the ball, getting numerous open shots right from the get-go. The offensive flow translated to pesky defense, which led to transition baskets and an insurmountable lead.
Within minutes, it seemed like the Wizards had done enough to stomp out the Hawks’ chances of ever making a run of their own.
Washington held on to their large lead and the second unit built on it en route to a 112-86 victory on the road.
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Gortat finally outplays Howard
Gortat, who struggles to keep up with more athletic, bouncier big men, shut down Howard on Friday, setting the tone for the rest of the team defensively.
He was physical with Howard inside, making it hard for the Hawks’ star to get any easy layups or dunks.
Once that was taken away, Howard’s offense was rendered useless. The Hawks tried to run post-up plays for Howard, but it resulted in a couple of traveling violations.
Gortat finished the game with 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting to go alongside 12 rebounds.
Washington outrebounded Atlanta by 11.
Otto lights it up again
Otto Porter is the NBA leader in 3-point percentage. It feels like regression to the mean is inevitable, but Porter has avoided it.
Against the Hawks, Porter scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. More importantly, he made 5 of his 7 threes.
His efficiency has made it easier for John Wall and Bradley Beal to operate. Quietly, he’s been the most effective 3-point shooter in the NBA. The Wizards have somehow been able to use him as a decoy and teams cannot seem to figure him out.
His shooting has been outstanding, but Porter hasn’t gotten enough credit for helping the team on the glass. His length neutralized the Hawks’ size in the paint.
The second unit is forming an identity
Washington’s bench is last in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. The talent, simply put, just isn’t there.
But the second unit is comprised of high-energy players. If nothing else, the Washington Wizards can rely on their bench to provide a spark of energy, even if they’re inconsistent.
Kelly Oubre checked into the game and immediately stole the ball, leading to a Tomas Satoransky dunk. So while no one scored double-digit points off the bench, they did make some momentum-swinging plays that helped Washington solidify one of their most dominant wins of the season.
Following Friday’s win, the Wizards are just one game behind the Hawks for homecourt advantage in the NBA Playoffs.
The Wizards will continue their road trip on Sunday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.