After a big win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, the Washington Wizards came into Monday with a chance to take a 3-1 series lead before Wednesday. Unfortunately, that didn't happen as the Hawks won 106-101.
The Wizards started out shooting really hot from the three point line -- especially Paul Pierce, who made each of his first five attempts from deep -- and shot 10 of 15 in the first half. However, they were ice cold in the second half, going only 2 of 11. Meanwhile, the Hawks were able to take advantage of the Wizards turnovers, where they scored 19 points of 16 giveaways.
Even though the Wizards were losing by around 10 points for much of the second half, and were down by as many as 14 points at one point in the game, they were able to make things interesting in the end but Paul Pierce missed a potential game-tying three. Then on the following possession, Hawks guard Kyle Korver appeared to have traveled before passing the ball, and Paul Millsap was able to ice the game with free throws.
Sure, that was a missed call, but the Wizards weren't the better team tonight, and it's clear that they have work to do before Game 5 on Wednesday when the series heads back to Atlanta. Here are some takeaways from this game.
The Hawks' point guard duo of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder was amazing
Schroder had an excellent Game 3 performance where his drives to the hoop helped create some offense for the Hawks and turned an all-but-certain blowout loss into a more-than-winnable game. Seeing more dynamic guard play is key if the Hawks were going to turn this series around.
Both guards took advantage of a porous Wizards interior defense, as Teague led all Hawks scorers with 26 points and Schroder added 14 more. Both also dished eight assists each in the win.
Paul Millsap had a nice bounceback game
After a lackluster Game 3 performance where he had the flu, Millsap scored 19 points. He wasn't just making shots, Millsap also dished six assists and I was wondering whether he would have a triple double by the time the night was over. Fortunately for the Wizards, he got in foul trouble in the second half, so that limited his impact somewhat, but Teague ans Schroder.
Marcin Gortat had an ugly game
The Polish Hammer shot a putrid 1 of 7 from the field. In fact, he started out missing each of his first six shots. Ugh! It seems like he and the Nene of Games 1 and 2 switched places.
The Wizards' turnover issues are hitting front and center again
The Wizards committed 16 turnovers tonight, nine of them in the first half. It's not just about the turnovers in and of themselves. The Wizards also committed some badly timed ones while momentum was on their side.
One happened with just over eight minutes left in the game when Bynum tried to pass the ball to Porter after securing an offensive rebound. On the next play, Dennis Schroeder made a corner three to turn a 89-84 game that could have been an 89-86 contest into an 92-84 one instead.
Then with just over six minutes left, the Wizards were able to block Jeff Teague twice when he attempted two point blank shots and got possession. But Porter made a careless pass which turned into another turnover which Teague intercepted and he was subsequently fouled. Washington can't afford to be making turnovers in these kinds of momentum building situations and expect to win.
Bradley Beal was freakin' awesome!
If there's a silver lining, Beal once again had a stellar performance as the Wizards' lead guard, as he led all scorers with 34 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished seven assists, and stole the ball three times tonight. Unfortunately it wasn't enough.