Washington Wizards blew a 20-plus point lead against the Atlanta Hawks, but John Wall refused to lose, closing the series in Game-6.
Up by 21 points with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Washington Wizards seemed to have the game – and the series – in the bag against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.
But basketball, as cliche as it’s become to say, is a game of runs.
Washington coughed the ball up numerous times to begin the second half, and although their lead seemed insurmountable, Atlanta continued to press.
Soon, the Hawks went on a 7-0 run and their deficit became manageable. Once the crowd got into it, the Hawks dug into the Wizards defensively and forced multiple turnovers, eventually cutting the Wizards’ lead down to just 3.
John Wall, though, didn’t want to play another game in D.C. So he made sure the series would end in Game-6.
More from Wiz of Awes
- It would be a mistake for the Wizards to trade for this elite sharpshooter
- When is the 2024 NBA trade deadline? Everything you need to know
- 5 early predictions for the 2023-24 Washington Wizards
- 4 most interesting Washington Wizards storylines for the 2023-24 season
- Washington Wizards: 3 teams that would be perfect fit for Danilo Gallinari
Wall took it upon himself to close out the series, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter. The Hawks, as an entire team, scored 17 points in the fourth quarter.
He knocked down consecutive jump shots from the elbow and traded threes with Dennis Schroder. When the Hawks got a steal, Wall chased it down and blocked the shot off the backboard.
That sequence was perhaps the best of Wall’s career.
Wall scored a playoff career-high 42 points, dished out 8 assists, stole the ball 4 times and blocked 2 shots.
As Jen Julie Smith recently noted, he’s been doing absolutely everything possible to help the Wizards win in the postseason.
His backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, probably won’t get as much credit for Washington’s victory, but in many ways, he created the spark to seal the Wizards’ first win on the road.
Beal anchored the Wizards’ offense and scored at will, totaling 31 points on 11 of 17 shooting from the field. When Wall needed a break – he played 44 minutes – Beal commanded the Wizards’ offense, knocking down key jump shots from mid-range. Beal also made a game-changing three from the corner.
Atlanta presented the same challenges in Games 3 and 4, but on Friday, the Washington Wizards figured out how to combat it.
Markieff Morris rose to the occasion versus Paul Millsap, scoring 17 points to go alongside 8 rebounds. More importantly, Morris kept his composure and helped get stops defensively, setting the tone for Washington.
At the end of the buzzer, the Wizards had the best player on the court on their side: John Wall. If nothing else, the Wizards know they have two stars they can count on when closing out a series. That much will be needed on Sunday when the Wizards begin their series against the Boston Celtics.