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Five observations from Wizards' win over the Hawks, including Bradley Beal's dominance

Five observations from Wizards' win over the Hawks, including Bradley Beal's dominance

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.

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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Wizards get first glimpse of Trae Young, Hawks’ revamped backcourt

Wizards get first glimpse of Trae Young, Hawks’ revamped backcourt

Perimeter play has never been more important in the NBA, as the Warriors have helped usher in a new era where making threes is paramount and preventing opponents from making them can often determine the outcome of games.

Every team wants an elite backcourt. The Wizards have one. The Atlanta Hawks hope they have found theirs.

In this past June’s NBA Draft, the Hawks selected point guard Trae Young with the fifth overall pick, then shooting guard Kevin Huerter with the 19th pick. With former Warriors executive Travis Schlenk at the helm, this was no coincidence. Though the comparisons are lofty, Young has been likened to Stephen Curry and Huerter to Klay Thompson. 

The Wizards will get their first look at the upstart Hawks duo on Wednesday night, as they go into Atlanta for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.

Fresh off two straight wins, the Wizards aim to keep it rolling as they continue an Eastern Conference road swing. They enter the matchup as favorites with the Hawks stumbling at 5-19 on the year.

Though Atlanta appears headed to the lottery once again, Young has shown promise in particular. He is third among rookies in points per game (15.8) and first in assists (7.4). However, he has struggled to be efficient, shooting 37.9 from the field and 23.9 from three.

Huerter holds a solid role in the rotation, having averaged 20.7 minutes in 23 games this season, seven of them starts. But he is posting just 6.0 points per game while shooting 40.8 percent.

The Wizards’ star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, meanwhile, are having another strong year statistically. Wall is averaging 21.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and a block per game. Beal has been the Wizards’ best overall player with a stat line of 21.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks.

With Young and Huerter on the perimeter, the Hawks have a increased emphasis on shooting threes. They are fourth in the NBA in attempts (34.3/g.) and are taking nearly 14 percent more than they did a year ago. Their 11.1 made threes per game rank 12th.

But their percentage remains low. At 3a 1.4 clip, they are dead-last among NBA teams. 

Beyond Young and Huerter, the Hawks feature some holdovers that Washington is familiar with. Rim-running big man John Collins leads them in scoring at 15.9 points per game. Swingman Tauren Waller-Prince isn’t far behind with 15.0 points per contest.

Wall and Beal have had a detailed history with the Hawks, having seen them in two playoff series that spanned to very different eras for Atlanta. Now the Hawks have started a new chapter with an emphasis on guard play, something the Wizards know a thing or two about.


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Huerter, the newest Hawk, introduced in Atlanta


Huerter, the newest Hawk, introduced in Atlanta

It was just months ago that Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter was a sure lock to return for the 2018-2019 season in College Park. 

At some point during the offseason, the 19-year-old changed his mind and decided to test his luck and enter the 2018 NBA Draft. 

After a solid performance at the Combine, Huerter began to soar up draft projection boards. 

Fast forward to the night of the Draft on June 21 from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

The Clifton Park, N.Y. native declined an invite to instead be with his family, friends and former teammates at a local country club. 

After watching 18 players get their names called by Commisioner Adam Silver, this happened: 

This viral video had the 518 (Albany, N.Y. area code) basketball community buzzing about the kid who brought Shenendehowa High School its first state championship since 1987. 

Huerter enjoyed outreach from many different names throughout the sports community: 

On Monday, Huerter was officially introduced as the newest Atlanta Hawk. His father, Tom Huerter, documented part of the special day on Twitter: 

In other news, if you don't see Kevin Huerter in Summer League, don't worry. Earlier this month, Huerter learned he needed to repair torn ligaments in his right shooting hand in order to be fully ready for the start of camp. 

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk expressed his confidence in a full recovery for Huerter during the introductory press conference Monday. 

Clearly the organization is in the middle of a massive rebuild, and it's hoping that newcomers Kevin Huerter, Trae Young and Omari Spellman will be at the center of it.