November 7, 2015 – Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
The Wizards returned to the site of their Eastern Conference semi-finals opponents, the Atlanta Hawks, looking to erase all memories of a blowout loss on Friday night to the Boston Celtics. The story of that game was not only hot shooting by Boston, but also the Celtics capitalizing off a plethora of Washington miscues. The Hawks entered this game 6-1 and looking every bit as good as they did on their way to 60 wins last season.
So, limit mistakes and most of the work takes care of itself, right?
The Wizards turned the ball over on their first possession of the game. They’d end up with a staggering 26 on the night, bringing their consecutive game total to 50.
Setting the ball control issues aside for a moment, the Wizards played competitive ball for three quarters. In the first, Wall played a solid game, showing he’s adept at not only knifing through the defense, but also hitting from outside (he’d have 2 three pointers) on the night. Aside from a couple blown chances at the rim on fast breaks – it’s so odd seeing Wall not be able to finish – the game was tied after 1.
Nene played well during his time on the floor in the 2nd, knocking down a few field goals and showing some tenacity on the glass. Even with a brief spell by Wall, the second unit withstood more turnovers – around 13 midway through the 2nd – to hold onto the lead. This is due in large part to Otto Porter’s big night. He brought the offensive explosion most knew he was capable of.
The second half, however, proved to be a tale of two teams. While the Wizards saw their leading scorer, Brad Beal, get bottled up by a great Hawks defensive game plan, they got sufficient contributions from elsewhere on the team to lead 78-75 at the end of 3.
The 4th quarter would end up being a total collapse. While Beal found some success, the team’s ball trouble finally caught up with them. The Hawks, as they’d been doing all night, keep pressuring the Wizards not only in the half court, but they also took advantage of lazy Washington in bounds passes and 50/50 hustle balls. The Hawks also caught fire from long range, giving them the boost to pull away and outscore Washington by 18 points in the quarter.
Washington falls to 3-3 on the season and now have to right the ship to face their toughest opponent yet, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
#WizHawks in a tweet..
— J. Michael (@JMichaelCSN) November 8, 2015
The Game’s Top Performer:
Otto Porter – Career-high 23 points
As mentioned, Otto Porter had a fantastic night, anchoring the offense with a career-high 23 points, including 3-5 from three point range and a perfect 4-4 from the line. Otto also added 3 rebounds and a steal. The most remarkable part about Otto’s game tonight – beyond his field goal percentage – is how many highly contested shots he nailed. There were several times that Hawks defenders got a hand in his face and he still managed to drain his looks. With the Wizards undermanned at the wing, we’ll need more of this Otto going forward.
Honorable mention: John Wall: 19 points, 12 assists, 2 steals and a block.
A forgettable night for..
It seems unfair slotting Bradley Beal here, but considering the way his night unfolded, I’m sure all fans would like to erase this one pretty quickly. I’ll credit the Hawks coaching staff with making Beal essentially a non-factor. The Wizards leading scorer not only had trouble getting open looks, but the Hawks forced him into lots of poor decisions, leading to Beal turning the ball over 8 times over the course of the game. When it appeared that Beal was turning things around in the 4th, he coughed up the ball again and took a blow his shoulder. Shortly after that, he sustained another shoulder injury reaching for the ball. This one would cause him to leave the floor and have to be escorted to the locker room. It looked pretty bad.
– Marcin Gortat spent a good deal of the second half on the bench, as Wittman found success with a smaller lineup. That didn’t stop Gortat, however, from notching another double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He also snatched 2 steals. Atlanta has very mobile bigs so it’s worth noting that Al Horford didn’t have a 2015 playoffs performance. He scored 14 but needed 13 attempts to do it.
– Nene quietly had a nice night, scoring 10 points on 5-6 from the floor. Also worth noting is some tenacity he showed on the boards on a couple sequences, as well as an and-1 late in the game. With all the attention being paid to Washington’s back court (and Humphries’ outside shot not being fully consistent), Nene and Gortat can begin to make their mark.
– Get well, Brad. Just get well.