The Wizards hosted the Hawks on Saturday night and used a monster second half to win 113-94. Bradley Beal scored 19 points and Markieff Morris made 8-of-10 shots for 18 points in 20 minutes, while Kelly Oubre Jr. led the bench with 18 of the team’s season-high 49 bench points. Washington held Atlanta to only 41.0% shooting in the game and forced 24 Hawks turnovers, leading to a season-high 39 Wizards points off turnovers. The Wizards also held the Hawks to an opponent season-low 28 points in the paint, with the Hawks only making 14-of-33 (47.7%) shots inside the paint.
The first quarter was the beginning of a night with too many turnovers for both teams, as the Wizards scored eight points on seven Hawks turnovers in the opening period. Beal paced the Wizards with eight points while the Hawks hit four triples to keep the game close 20-19, Wizards. The Wizards missed their first nine 3-pointers, but would nail their next four attempts. The Hawks took a seven-point lead at one point in the second quarter, but the Wizards clawed back with a 19-5 run to close out the first half. Morris anchored the team in his five-plus minutes in the quarter, as he was on the floor for the entire run, scoring seven points. The Hawks were putting smaller defenders on Morris, and the Wizards fed him the ball a ton in the first half.
After halftime, the Wizards came out and shot 50.0% from the field in the third quarter. Turnovers kept the Hawks around in the third period, but the Wizards would open up a 13-point lead. Washington’s second unit struggled during their minutes in the first half, but the unit played quite well in their second stint. The lineup of Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre Jr., Mike Scott, and Ian Mahinmi went on a 22-6 run to seal the win. The Wizards would put up 37 points in the fourth quarter, and not one starter played a minute. With the team still figuring out some lineups with Morris back, the second unit’s success in the second half impressed.
“Gave our starters time to rest in the fourth quarter,” Scott Brooks said postgame. “[A] Lot of good things, [a] lot of good play off the bench. Guys were moving the ball, looking for each other, and that’s progress. We’re going to hopefully continue to build off a game like tonight.”
Dennis Schroder, the Hawks’ best scorer, was held to only seven points on 2-of-16 shooting and had four turnovers. John Wall and the other perimeter defends shut him down, putting the Hawks in tough spots offensively with their top scorer struggling.
“John [Wall] did a great [job],” Brooks said of Wall’s effort against Schroder. “He’s quick. He’s tough. It’s a challenge to stay in front of him and John was doing a good job, and our bigs were showing bodies. He didn’t get any clean looks. The ones that he shot were all contested so that’s what we got to do. We’ve got to live with contested shots. Some players can hit them but tonight we did a good job on him. You know, he’s the engine to that team. When he plays well they get out in transition, they score, and they do a good job of moving the ball for threes.”
“He missed a couple shots, but I think we did a great job of trying to keep him away from the basket,” Wall, who was under the weather before the game and had to take two IVs to play, said. “He tried to get a couple of scoop layups that he’s very good at, but our bigs did a great job of staying back and keeping their hands up and kinda blocking their shots.”
After a shaky first quarter against the Lakers on Thursday, the Wizards’ defense has been exceptional in the team’s last seven quarters. Opponents have shot 51-142 (35.9%) from the field, turned the ball over 39 times for 58 points off turnovers, and Washington is giving up only 22 points per quarter. The Wizards have locked in defensively after some struggles to begin the year and been taking advantage of opponents’ missed shots and miscues. Coach Brooks preached defense all week, and his team has been delivering.
“I think we have pretty much have gotten it figured out,” Beal said of the team’s defense. “That has been something that is preached to us the last couple days is holding teams under 100. Our record of last year. We are capable of doing it and a couple games that we have had this year in which we did it, so we understand what it is about, we understand where we are at right now, we cannot look back. We have to continue to stay consistent with it.”
The Wizards (7-5) hope to bring that defensive intensity again on Monday night against the Kings at 7pm to close out a four-game homestand.