The Wizards rank at or near the bottom of the NBA in field-goal percentage, points and assists but shot 72 percent in the first quarter and 57 percent through three periods. Crawford helped keep the Hawks in it. The Wizards led 64-58 when Crawford scored 11 points over the final 7:09 of the period to forge a 78-78 tie and also showed some defensive spunk on the perimeter.
Young has been playing some of the best basketball of his career in recent weeks, scoring at least 20 points in three of his past four games and averaging 21.6 points in his past five. Young started the game on fire, as he made seven of his first eight shots and scored 19 points in the first half. He came around screens, buried jumpers, knocked down open three-pointers and played with confidence. But he cooled off considerably in the second half, as he shot just 2 for 8.
With the outcome hanging in the balance Atlanta started fourth on a 13-4 run. That’s the difference from a team that is battling for playoff seeding and a team that’s planning an early vacation. "The difference between a playoff team and a non-playoff team is they have players that make plays in critical situations, meanwhile we have guys that can't make those plays on a consistent basis," said Flip Saunders. "The best part of being a young player is you get better every single day."
Jeff Teague got (9) minutes tonight, scored (2) points and had (2) assists. But the oddity of the night was a sequence in which the Hawks ran the ball through Teague in the post. Why? Earl Boykins was checking Teague and Jeff, as every player in the league does, has a size advantage on Boykins. Sure enough, Teague got (2) fouls on Earl as he struggled to check the taller player. Earl got his revenge a little later by crossing Teague over, leaving the vet clear to run the lane and hit his only basket of the night. Touche'.
The biggest difference in Blatche from the beginning of the year to now? "I had to be a lot, lot, lot more patient," Blatche said. "I got to see what team's scouting plans are, being the main focus down there, I had never been in that kind of situation before in my career in the NBA. Now that I'm getting that kind of attention, I have to be patient with all of my moves and my decisions with the ball." Blatche faces some stiff competition for the award, and may not make the top three of most ballots since his outburst came in the second half of the season. Houston's Aaron Brooks, Minnesota's Corey Brewer, Atlanta's Josh Smith, Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut, Memphis' Marc Gasol, Charlotte's Gerald Wallace, the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Kaman and New Jersey's Brook Lopez have all gotten better this season - and they have been able to put up those numbers over the course of the full season.