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Takeaways from Wizards' Game 5 win over Atlanta Hawks to take 3-2 series lead

Takeaways from Wizards' Game 5 win over Atlanta Hawks to take 3-2 series lead

The road team has yet to win a game in the series, and Wednesday held to form as the Wizards pulled out a 103-99 victory to take a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Hawks in front of a sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.

Bradley Beal (27 points) and John Wall (20 points, 14 assists, six rebounds) led the way in a game that stayed close throughout between the No. 4 and 5 seeds.

Game 6 is Friday at Phillips Arena and if a Game 7 is necessary it’ll be Sunday at Verizon.

The Wizards were able to limit Atlanta’s effectiveness in the paint. After scoring 60 points there in a Game 4 win, the Hawks were held to 36.

Better support came from the role players for Washington, too, as Otto Porter (17 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (14 points) made clutch shots.

The Wizards appeared headed to a comfortable finish up 98-91, but the Hawks made another run before Beal knocked down a jumper out of timeout and Wall hit one from the foul line to make it a two-possession game with 47.5 seconds left.


Dennis Schroder (29 points, 11 assists) and Paul Millsap (21 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles for Atlanta which didn’t get as big of a showing from Dwight Howard (five points, 10 rebounds) because of foul trouble. Tim Hardaway (15 points) and Taurean Prince (10 points, six rebounds) contributed but they didn’t get much from the other players on the roster.

Kent Bazemore and Jose Calderon, who combined for 26 points and 12 assists in Game 4, had just a total of eight points and three assists.

[RELATED: Joe Biden sits courtside at Wizards-Hawks playoff game]

--A third scorer emerged in Porter, who had an outburst to begin the third quarter to spark a 10-2 run. Porter consecutive two threes and a pair of foul shots as the lead grew to 69-58 but it quickly evaporated as Hardaway knocked down long-range shots. Porter only needed four shots to get his 17 points, getting to the foul line 10 times.

--The Wizards called a few postups for Gortat that were not successful as they cut the deficit to 86-83. When they went to Millsap at the five with10:20 left in the game, Gortat had his way again with the forward. He didn’t score much himself but didn’t need to do so. He set screens that allowed the guards to get into the paint without rim protection to thwart their attack. Gortat finally got his first foul shots of the series on a drive to the rim with 6:09, making both for a 94-89 lead. It also represented his first points of the game.

--On Millsap’s first post up on Morris, the Wizards sent Wall on a double-team to get the seal and a foul at 8:24 of first quarter. It’s a strategy that they hadn’t used during the series and Millsap ended up on the bench with three first-half fouls with 1:44 left in the half. Porter helped Smith by doubling Millsap but Gortat blew the help on Prince who had an uncontested dunk. Porter also came from the far weakside of the floor to double and the Wizards had success.

--Down 34-27, the Wizards got back in it with Howard and Millsap on the floor. During a 7-0 run, Morris played center and they got away with the undersized Porter at the four spot. By the time Gortat returned, the Wizards were up 38-36 and went into the half ahead 50-49.

--Howard was the  most aggressive that he has been all series as he ran out on shooters and came up on the ballhandler on pick-and-rolls. Howard went to the bench with four fouls with 2:34 left in the third on Beal’s drive to the basket so it came at a price.

--Bogdanovic had his best start to a game with eight first-half points on five shots. He made both of his three-pointers as well as he was pivotal in the second-quarter run. He appeared to draw a third foul on Howard but it was overturned on review when it was determined the shot clock had expired first on a drive.

--Morris still had foul trouble. He picked up his third at 5:18 of the second quarter as he made 4 of 9 shots. His third didn’t come on Millsap, however, as he helped on Howard and struck him on a dunk attempt.  Morris had a rejection of Hardaway at the rim with 3:59 left that came after Gortat swatted Schroder. Morris picked up his fifth foul – and a technical at 3:20 – when he dove to the floor for a loose ball. He dove for it along with Millsap who fell over the top of him and appeared to have a strong case to be upset.

--Up 50-45, the Hawks ended the half on a 4-0 run. Bogdanovic switched back to Prince, made him change direction with his dribble and throw a lob to Howard for a dunk. Gortat didn’t come up high enough to trap him aggressively or needed to stay pinned to his man. Prince’s ball handling is suspect and forcing him to shoot off one foot on the dribble might’ve been the better decision. 

--Jason Smith (left calf contusion) left the game in the third and didn’t return. He played 16 minutes and only made 2 of 9 shots for five points.

[RELATED: Wall gave away his Game 4 jersey to NFL Pro Bowler]

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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