The Wizards moved six games over .500 with a 112-86 win against the lethargic Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. With the win, the Wizards are also improved to 11-1 when holding their opponents to less than 100 points this season. This marks the third time this season that the Wizards held an opponent below 90 points.
The Wizards got off to a strong start with excellent ball movement and shooting, opening the game up with an early 10-1 lead. The lead would grow as large as 15 in the first quarter. Every starter with the exception of John Wall made at least 2 field goals in the opening frame, including two three pointers from both Otto Porter and Markieff Morris each.
Then, with Wall, Porter and Gortat resting in the second quarter, the Wizards were able to stretch the lead briefly to 16 points. The Wizards’ offense was not as sharp in the 2nd quarter, but their defense continued to play well, holding the Hawks to 35 percent shooting in the first half as they took a 22 point lead into halftime.
Outside of Kent Bazemore and Tim Hardaway Jr., Atlanta could not find a rhythm on offense. Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder, Atlanta’s two leading scorers for the season, combined for 3 for 15 shooting in the first half. Both finished the game with a combined 13 points.
The Wizards continued their dominance in the third quarter as they continued to stretch out their lead. The Hawks looked very disinterested on defense in particular, giving up numerous wide open looks and second chance opportunities as the Wizards took a 30 point lead at one point in the quarter.
From there it was pretty much garbage time with the starters, sans Otto Porter, getting the 4th quarter off as Washington cruised to the finish. All five of the Wizards starters finished with at least 15 points as they picked up their third straight win.
Here’s what else we noticed in the big win:
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
If there were a negative thing to say about the Wizards first half, it would have to be their turnovers. Morris committed five and Wall committed three. As a team they committed 11, with many coming on errant passes. It was certainly nice to see the team’s willingness to move the ball around, but it also led to some sloppy plays that halted the Wizards’ ability to further extend their lead. In the second half, the team cleaned it up with only 7 turnovers, with a majority of those while the bench playing during garbage time.
The combination of Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, and Otto Porter was an absolute terror on the boards. They combined to get 26 of the Wizards’ 31 first half rebounds, which lead to a decisive 31-19 advantage in rebounding in the first half. They finished with a 32 combined rebounds, even though Porter was the only who played at all in the fourth quarter. By contrast, the Hawks only grabbed 41 rebounds during the entire game.
Moving up in the standings
With the win, the Wizards move to within a half-game of both the 4th seed and the Southeast Division lead. More importantly, the Wizards guaranteed themselves an opportunity to potentially take the season series against Atlanta. They hold a 2-1 lead and the final game will be played March 22nd in Washington.