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Fast break: Hawks hold off flurries from Wizards to draw even


Fast break: Hawks hold off flurries from Wizards to draw even

With a chance to take command of this second-round series with the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks, the Wizards lost their defensive edge and home-court advantage as they allowed 65 first-half points en route to a 106-101 loss in Game 4 loss Monday.

Jeff Teague had his best game of the series with 26 points and eight assists, Al Horford had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Millsap added 19 points and six assists as they drew even at 2. The Wizards are 1-2 without John Wall (fractured left wrist) and lost at Verizon Center for the first time in four games this postseason.

The smaller team, the Hawks lived in the paint and had too many uncontested layups. The Wizards were red-hot from deep, making 10 of their first 15 three-point shots but trailed 65-55 at halftime. 

The Wizards opened the third quarter with a 9-1 run as the Hawks had two turnovers and an airball from DeMarre Carroll. Millsap also picked up his third and fourth fouls in less than two minutes -- on a drive by Beal and going over Marcin Gortat's back for a rebound -- to briefly change the complexion of the game. 

Atlanta steadied itself, however, as Dennis Schroder came off the bench for 14 points and eight assists. Otto Porter and Drew Gooden had been sparks for the Wizards, but the reserves combine for just seven points on 2-for-10 shooting.

Bradley Beal set a career playoff high with 34 points on 11-for-25 shooting, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. while keeping Kyle Korver in check again. The NBA's best three-point shooter, Korver only had six points on four shots.

Paul Pierce made all five of his first three-point attempts and scored 22 points, but he had a wide-open look that could've tied the score at 104 in the final six seconds that was long.


TURNING POINT: The Wizards were in range with the score 101-97 after Otto Porter made 1 of 2 foul shots, but Teague buried a three-pointer for a seven point lead late to put the Hawks just out of reach.

NUMBERS GAME: The Wizards shot 38-for-85, 44.7%, including 12-for-26 from three-point range (46.2%), had a 15-11 edge in fast-break points were even in rebounds at 48.

SPARK PLUG: Will Bynum had his best game with Washington, including a series of layups in the second quarter to trim the Wizards' deficit to 44-40. These were the most minutes (14) that he has played in any of his three appearances. Bynum had nine points in Game 3. He came off the bench after Garrett Temple who only lasted four minutes. Bynum returned for a crucial stretch in the fourth when his drive past Teague and Horford in traffic for a layup pulled the Wizards to 89-84. He finished 5-for-7 for 10 points but did have four turnovers. 

PIVOTAL MOMENT: Not slowed by flu-like symptoms like he was in Game 3, Millsap was a different player. Instead of beating the Wizards with the long ball, he was able to get to the rim and made the right reads to get six first-half assists. But he picked up two fouls in less than two minutes to start the third quarter which sent him to the bench with four. Pero Antic and soon after what had been a 10-point lead was trimmed to 65-64. But when the quarter ended, the last 10 minutes played without Millsap, the lead was back to 10.

SIZE LIABILITY: Determined to impose their size, the Wizards didn't do a good job with Gortat who wasn't a factor. In 31 minutes he was 0-for-5 and had just one point until his tape in of a miss by Sessions with 3:17 left. Nene only took eight shots for 12 points. 

UP NEXT: The Wizards will have a light shootaround Tuesday before leaving for Atlanta, where they'll play the Hawks in Game 5 on Wednesday at Phillips Arena (TNT, 8 p.m. ET).

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Nassir Little

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Nassir Little

School: North Carolina
Position: Forward
Age: 19
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
Wingspan: 7-1
Max vertical: 38.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 9.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 47.8 FG% (3.6/7.6), 26.9 3PT% (0.4/1.4), 77.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Justise Winslow

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, NBADraft.net 11th, Bleacher Report 16th, Sports Illustrated 11th, Ringer 14th

5 things to know:

*Little came to UNC as their top-ranked recruit and the sixth-ranked player in his class, but didn't live up to those expectations in his one year in Chapel Hill. There is a debate about whether he will be better suited for the NBA, given his athleticism and playing style. The team who drafts him could come away with a steal if the latter proves true.

*He is more known for his defense at this point. Little is an aggressive and physical perimeter defender who could develop into a Marcus Smart-like pest. Though he didn't force a ton of turnovers in college, Little clearly gave opposing teams problems with his energy and length. 

*There are questions about whether Little will ever be more than a dunker on the offensive end. He is excellent in transition and cutting to the rim, but he didn't do much creating off the dribble in college and needs to work on his outside shooting. He shot just 26.9 percent from three at UNC.

*Little had a strong combine with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Those numbers helped his reputation as one of the most athletic wings in this year's class.

*Both of Little's parents were in the U.S. military. He had a 4.2 GPA in high school and was named Academic All-ACC.

Fit with Wizards: Little fits with the Wizards given he is a small forward and they currently have an opening there. He would also give them something they need in terms of style as a physical wing defender. Little is the type of player who could help them improve their horrid three-point defense.

But Little's raw skillset suggests he may take some time to develop offensively and it brings into question how high his ceiling will ultimately prove to be. The Wizards may be able to find someone with the ninth pick who can both contribute sooner than Little and offer a clearer road to potential stardom.

That said, if Little's game is indeed more designed for the NBA than in college, he could impress in pre-draft workouts and end up rising up the board.

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Bol Bol

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Bol Bol

School: Oregon
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-3
Weight: 208
Wingspan: 7-7
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.7 bpg, 56.1 FG% (8.2/14.7), 52.0 3PT% (1.4/2.8), 75.7 FT%

Player comparison: Kristaps Porzingis, Thon Maker

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 12th, NBADraft.net 18th, Bleacher Report 9th, Sports Illustrated 17th, Ringer 12th

5 things to know:

*Bol has a chance to be perfectly suited for this era of NBA unicorns. He is over 7-feet tall, yet is highly skilled for his size. He can run the floor, make plays off the dribble and shoot from outside. He is also an adept shot-blocker with the instincts to maximize his height and length.

*Bol is the son of former Bullets player Manute Bol. His father was drafted by Washington in 1985 and played three seasons with the team to start his career. He later returned to play for the Bullets in 1993 for another year. The elder Bol was 7-foot-7 and is among the tallest players in NBA history. He famously was teammates with Muggsy Bogues, who stood just 5-foot-3.

*He only played in nine games with Oregon due to a stress fracture in his left foot. A stress fracture is always ominous for a basketball player, but especially for a big man. If it weren't for the injury, Bol would probably be in the top-five range. Whichever team takes him will be going high-risk, high-reward, not unlike the Nuggets with Michael Porter Jr. last June.

*Bol unsurprisingly turned heads at the NBA Combine. He measured in about 7-foot-3 and with a 7-7 wingspan. If it weren't for Tacko Fall, those each would have led this year's class. Bol also has a 9-foot-7 1/2-ing standing reach. That means he can nearly touch the rim without jumping.

*Perhaps the most interesting stat when it comes to Bol is his three-point shooting. Though it was a small sample size, he shot 52 percent from long range and on nearly three atempts per game. For a guy his size, having any sort of three-point shot is noteworthy and to shoot at that clip is exceptional, no matter the position. 

Fit with Wizards: Bol would be a great fit for the Wizards in some regards in that he plays a position of need and would offer star potential. He also would add rim protection, which the Wizards sorely lack. And it would be a nice story, Bol beginning his career with the same franchise that his father did.

But Bol is the type of risk that the Wizards may not be in position to take. They ideally would get someone who does not have injury concerns, someone who could step right in and represent a legitimate building block for the future. 

Maybe that changes if the Wizards' medical team gives him the clear. But Bol seems more likely to fit with the Wizards if they pull off a trade to adde more picks. If they moved back from ninth and got another first round selection, taking Bol wouldn't be nearly as risky.

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