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Takeaways from Wizards' close out of Hawks in Game 6

Takeaways from Wizards' close out of Hawks in Game 6

ATLANTA – The closeout game on the road is supposed to be the toughest, and though the Wizards made it look easy most of the way Friday they found out just how tough it can be vs. the Atlanta Hawks.

They almost blew most of a 22-point lead and had to weather a furious comeback that trimmed their lead to as little as 93-90 in the fourth quarter before pulling away to take the series with a 115-99 victory at Phillips Arena. It was their first road win of the first-round series won by Washington 4-2.

Bradley Beal (31 points) and John Wall (playoff career-high 42 points, eight assists) dominated from the outset and had enough of their role players show up with them. They went into halftime leading 65-46 only to lose their edge until Wall shut down the Hawks' momentum single-handedly.

After Beal’s turnover, he chased down Dennis Schroder (26 points, 10 assists) to block him at the rim to prevent the lead being trimmed to one. Wall then broke down the defense, got into the paint and made an incredible bank shot in traffic and a mid-range pull up to push the Wizards ahead 97-90 with 7:33 left. 

Wall and Beal got them out to front in a game they never trailed but allowed Atlanta back into hit after scoring 36 third-quarter points. Coach Mike Budenholzer went to a smaller lineup and spread the floor to get clutch threes from Kent Bazemore (nine points) and Jose Calderon (six points) off the bench.

The Hawks only trailed 46-42 on a shot from Taurean Prince (four points) in the second quarter but the Wizards ended the half on a 19-4 run behind tenacious defense that created easy buckets. 

Markieff Morris (17 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) had his best outing since Game 1, Bojan Bogdanovic (10 points) was a spark off the bench and Otto Porter (eight points, eight rebounds) had a workmanlike effort on both ends as he hit 2 of 4 threes and created problems for Atlanta withh his defensive pressure.

Paul Millsap (31 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) and Schroder led Atlanta but didn’t get much from anyone other than Tim Hardaway (13 points) and Dwight Howard (nine points, seven rebounds) as he had most of his production in the first quarter. 

Wall had 19 points in the fourth. He combined with Beal to shoot 27-for-42 overall, or 64.2%.

– Coach Scott Brooks opted to go with a small lineup in the fourth quarter, using Bogdanovic instead of Marcin Gortat as Howard stayed parked on the bench. 

– Calderon cut the deficit to 93-90 for Atlanta but that’s when the fun began. Wall had the chasedown and a series of jumpers. Beal also made a jumper off a curl and Wall drained another for a 106-97 lead and made sure anyone in earshot knew about it.

– Kelly Oubre had five steals by halftime. He was put on Schroder along with Porter and their length bothered him. As a team, the Wizards had 11 steals in the first 24 minutes. Oubre gave Schroder fits in their last regular-season game. Porter also had a key strip of Millsap on a post-up of Morris that negated a possession. In all, the Hawks had 22 turnovers that led to 27 points for Washington.

– Morris made a concerted effort to keep his hands to himself and allowed Millsap to have some shots that he was contesting in the previous games. Morris went to the locker room with no fouls and even though Millsap had 14 points he countered with 13 of his own on 5-for-7 shooting.

– The Hawks have been loading the paint at every turn, even in transition, if it means keeping Wall from the rim. It has allowed shooters to walk into spot ups that they’ve missed all series but the Wizards made them pay for it. Porter, Morris, Beal, Bogdanovic and Oubre combined to go 6-for-10 in the first half alone. Bazemore and Schroder ran at Wall to slow him down on a push. He threw it ahead to Beal on a corner spot up for an 84-65 lead. 

– For the first time, the Hawks tried to play through Howard in the post and even though he got off to a good start by making 3 of 4 shots it’s a recipe for failure. No one else on the floor is a threat because he’s not a creator. Howard had five turnovers in just 22 minutes played. Bazemore, an unreliable ballhandler to shocked the Wizards with seven assists in a Game 4 win for Atlanta, had seven turnovers himself. Millsap was forced into six. 

– Gortat made his first shot, his second attempt of the game, at 6:42 of the third quarter. The Hawks continued to take away his dives to the basket and he was content to do the dirty work to make the offense run such as sealing Howard to prevent him from contesting shots in the paint and getting tap outs for extra possessions. Howard had the better stats again. Gortat, who only played 18 minutes because of the small ball, had the more effective game.

– Jason Smith only played 11 minutes after he left Game 5 with a hyperextended knee. He was a game-time decision and didn’t appear any worse for wear but the Wizards didn’t rely on him to log too many minutes. Morris didn’t pick up a first-half foul made it more likely that he’d play extended time to protect Smith longer term. Smith was 0-for-1. Morris played 40 minutes.  

MORE WIZARDS: Foul on Beal sparks confrontation between Wizards and Hawks

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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