The Washington Wizards blew out the Atlanta Hawks 131-117 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. Close call: For a game that amounted to a blowout win for the Wizards, the Hawks did just enough to raise head coach Scott Brooks' blood pressure to a frantic level before it was all said and done.
The Wizards went up by 25 points in the first half. But a monster third quarter for the Hawks helped pull the game within five with just over 10 minutes to go in the fourth.
After scoring 49 points in the first half, Atlanta dropped 45 points in the third quarter alone. Forty-five points. Though that is the second time this season the Wizards have given up 45 or more in a quarter, it's just the third time since 2006 and their fifth time this century. It's rare, even for the Wizards, who have had some lean years mixed in there.
Still, Washington escaped with a win and they did it all without John Wall, who didn't play due to personal reasons. It was the first game he's missed this season.
The Wizards have now won three straight, matching a season-high. They are 11-14 on the year with another opportunity to beat up on a bad team up next with the Cavaliers on Saturday.
If they can knock off Cleveland and avoid the trap game, they will head into a two-game stretch against the Pacers and Celtics feeling pretty good about themselves.
2. Beal got them going: With Wall missing, Bradley Beal stepped in as the first option and settled into a distributor role with ease. The Hawks had no one who could stay in front of him off the dribble and when they made the right switches, he used the extra attention to his advantage by setting up teammates with clever passes in the lane.
Beal had a casually dominant night. He posted a season-high 36 points, nine assists, and six rebounds. He looked like by far the best player on the floor, a guy who was in complete control when the ball was in his hands.
This game gave Beal an opportunity to show off his evolution as a ball-handler. We've seen him make another leap this season with his ability to create off the dribble. But in this one, he operated extensively as a point guard and looked like a natural.
The only problem was his minutes. Due to the second-half push by Atlanta, Beal had to log nearly 42 minutes.
3. Oubre carried it over: 'Road Kelly Oubre Jr.' appears to be a thing. We detailed the splits following Monday's win over the Knicks, how he has been much better in away games, and it continued on Wednesday.
Oubre picked up right where he left off in New York, adding instant offense off the Wizards' bench. He hit his shot, a three, and had 10 points in his first nine minutes.
Oubre ended up with 19 points and five rebounds. He was once again very efficient, going 5-for-10 overall and 2-for-5 from three. In his last five games, Oubre is 13-for-24 from long range.
Oubre is on a heater right now, shooting the ball as well as he has at any point in his career. As the last two games have shown, he can make a big difference for the Wizards when he's rolling.
4. Bryant gave a spark: Thomas Bryant is fun to watch. He's big, fast and active on the boards. He runs the floor and makes plays above the rim.
And he clearly just loves to play basketball. There is no one on the Wizards who shows excitement after making plays quite like Bryant does.
Thomas Bryant may have passed Kelly Oubre on the Wizards’ ‘most excited after dunks’ depth chart. pic.twitter.com/HEDxkGsHH4— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) December 6, 2018
Beyond the theatrics, Bryant was a huge factor in this game. He hit a three early in the first quarter and soon after converted an and-1 after dunking off an offensive rebound. His ability to finish with power at the rim is rivaled only by Dwight Howard on the Wizards' roster.
Bryant had 16 points, nine rebounds, a block and a steal in the game. He continues to shine as the replacement starting center. And the more he makes an impact, the more impressive his acquisition is in hindsight.
The Wizards plucked him off waivers over the summer as a castoff of the Lakers. No one could have predicted he would be this good this fast.
5. Green also didn't play: Wall was out and the Wizards also didn't have Jeff Green, who sat due to a sore back. With Howard's extended absence, the Wizards beat the Hawks with three of their top seven or so players missing.
Green's injury still seems minor, as it has only described as back spasms or soreness. But it's now two of the past three games he's missed. And the one game he did play, on Monday against the Knicks, he went scoreless in 15 minutes.
Given Green is an important piece for the Wizards, as one of their best bench players, it's something to monitor for sure.
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