The Washington Wizards’ 116–120 loss versus the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night started with Russell Westbrook (34 points, five rebounds, 15 assists) draining a three to break a 1-for-5 shooting start for the visitors. Garrison Mathews followed with a corner three from the end line to tie the game at nine. Westbrook and Trae Young — first and second in average assists — traded threes to keep the game tied at 16 apiece. Washington (32–38) made the mistake of sending Young (33, eight and nine) to the free-throw line six times, and the electric guard was perfect from the stripe. Three turnovers and six personal fouls translated to just a five-point deficit for the Wizards after one.
The two sides scored only two points through the first two minutes of the quarter, going a collective 1-for-8 from the field. Westbrook again broke the streak, draining his second three of the contest. After Kevin Huerter knocked down a deep shot from the corner to push the lead to six, Scott Brooks called for a timeout.
Poor spacing and butterfingers cost Washington chance after chance to take the lead, but they hung around, primarily through Westbrook. Late in the frame, after trailing for the entire second quarter, the Wizards took a three-point lead on a Westbrook deep ball. Had it not been for the all-time triple-double leader, who had 25 first-half points, Washington would have been sunk after 24 minutes.
The Wizards took their largest lead of the game — nine — with Raul Neto knocking down some shots and forcing an Atlanta (39–31) timeout. The Hawks picked up the tempo but only slightly. Bogdan Bogdanovic (20 points) and Davis Bertans (14) were hot from three, and Neto (14) and Young traded floaters. After John Collins (18) scored to cut the lead to seven (after it was once 11), Brooks called for a stoppage at the 4:03 mark. Washington’s defensive intensity out of the break ignited their offense as they pushed the lead back to 11. Daniel Gafford’s 10 points in the third helped his side to an eight-point advantage.
After logging only two points in the third, it took Westbrook just 45 seconds into the fourth to score. Following a Westbrook dish led to a Gafford (16 points) slam, the Hawks called for a stoppage, having played less than a minute and a half and the Wizards up 12. A 9–0 Atlanta run forced a Washington pause with the lead at three. Back-to-back Washington field goals led to a timeout for the hosts. Westbrook’s first rebound of the second half, which came with 49.6 seconds left, led to a fast break that ended with a Clint Capela (17) block. The Wizards failed to score in the final 3:15 in the game, which ultimately proved to be their undoing.