John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 54 of Washington’s 101 points but it wasn’t enough to take down a balanced Atlanta attack that featured seven different Hawks reaching double figures in scoring.
Washington got off to a strong start. They didn’t pull away early, but they handled Atlanta’s initial blows and were able to take a 38-29 lead early in the second quarter. But right when it looked like the Wizards might be able to put their stamp on the game, the Hawks’ reserves, went on a 14-0 lead to take the lead and change the game.
The Wizards have survived bad runs given up by their bench in the past, but what made the run in this game different was who got involved. Kent Bazemore and Dwight Howard, who have struggled all series long, got involved during the run and make Atlanta much more difficult to guard.
Washington fought back in the second half, erasing a nine point halftime deficit less than seven minutes into the third quarter, but that was all they could do the rest of the way. Though the team tied things up at several different points in the second half, they could never reclaim the lead.
In the final five minutes, Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder, who struggled most of the game after playing well in the first three games, took over with some key shots to put the game away for Atlanta and lock the series up at 2-2.
The series will return to Washington, where Washington is 2-0, for Game 5 on Wednesday evening. The winner of Wednesday’s game will be just one win away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Wizards need to get Gortat more involved
Gortat was great on the glass in this one, pulling in 18 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive glass. The same can’t be said for his scoring output. He only scored 2 points, largely due to only getting four shots in 35 minutes of action.
As good as Wall and Beal were, they’re a better team when Gortat is a threat to pull the defense into the paint. Wall and Beal can get outside shots whenever they want, but guys like Porter, Morris, and Oubre need that extra threat inside to get clean looks.
Everything hinges on Markieff Morris
Remember how great Markieff was in Game 1? Yeah, the Wizards miss that. In this one, he scored 9 points on 10 shots, he was limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble, and only finished with four rebounds. Washington really needs to get him back into rhythm to turn the tide back in Game 5.