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Fast break: Hawks overcome Wall's return to take 3-2 series lead


Fast break: Hawks overcome Wall's return to take 3-2 series lead

ATLANTA -- John Wall did what appeared unthinkable by playing through a five breaks in his left wrist and hand, but Al Horford's putback with two seconds gave the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks the victory for a 3-2 series lead. 

Paul Pierce, who had a turnover that led to a layup for DeMarre Carroll that gave Atlanta an 80-78 lead with 15 seconds left, buried the go-ahead basket with a corner three-pointer with 8.3 seconds left until the final sequence. Dennis Schroder drove and missed, but Horford cleaned up the miss for an 82-81 victory.

The team that wins Game 5 after being tied at 2 is 147-33 all-time in the series (81.6%).

Wall had 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting, seven assists and four steals to spark the Wizards, who lost a 10-point lead in the third quarter and a seven-point lead in the fourth. 

Bradley Beal had a game-high 23 points and seven rebounds and Marcin Gortat 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

The loss overshadows the effort by Wall, who still has a left hand that's significantly swollen. Though he shoots right, he uses it a lot to finish at the rim. Wednesday, the Hawks overplayed him to go right and he was able to get to the rim and make things happen early but he only scored four points in the second half.

He took a charge from Mike Muscala and lost the ball when he slipped to the floor after that in the third quarter, scrambling for the loose ball with Kent Bazemore. Wall braced himself with his left hand and didn't seem to favor it after the fact. He chased down Schroder for a block with his right hand in the waning minutes of the fourth. 

But Horford slashed in on Schroder's miss to take the rebound away from Nene for the likely series-changing putback.

TURNING POINT: Trailing 70-63, the Hawks went on a 15-3 run to take a five-point lead in the final three minutes on consecutive transition baskets by Schroder. 

NUMBERS GAME: The Wizards shot 33 of 88, 37.5%, and had 19 turnovers -- six fewer than the Hawks.

LOCKED DOWN: Beal said he "hated" when Kyle Korver touched the ball, even if he wasn't shooting. He continued to show that aggression on him defensively, along with Porter, as the NBA's best three-point shooter opened 0-for-3 in the first half. Korver was so off-rhythm that when he finally had a clean look, he barely touched iron. Korver's only basket came on a three when the Hawks needed it during their fourth-quarter comeback. 

PROBLEM SOLVED: Schroder has been a major problem off the bench, averaging 12.5 points in just 19.5 minutes off the bench in this series. Schroder also made 15 trips to the foul line entering the game. He had his worst outing in this one as he couldn't get into the paint to finish. Schroder missed his first four shots and had three turnovers in relief of Teague. Teague had four giveaways in the first half.

EARLY ENGAGEMENT: Getting the ball to Nene and Gortat was imperative to start the game, and they combined for 14 first-half shots that produced 15 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.

UP NEXT: The Wizards returned to D.C. immediately after the game, will practice Thursday and play Game 6 at Verizon Center on Friday.

MORE WIZARDS: John Wall active for Game 5 against Hawks

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Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Dwight Howard shares his first health update since back surgery

Three weeks removed from back surgery to take care of his nagging gluteal injury, Dwight Howard rejoined the Washington Wizards for their Tuesday night contest with the Atlanta Hawks inside State Farm Arena. 

"Physically, I'm a lot better than I was before the surgery. The nine games I played, I basically played on one leg. So, you know, I'm just happy that that's out the way and I can rehab and get ready for the second half of the season," Howard told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller. 

During those nine games, the 33-year-old averaged 12.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, while shooting over 62% from the floor. 

Howard is no stranger to back surgery. In 2012, the then Orlando Magic center underwent a procedure to repair a herniated disk which ended his season and took him out of Summer Olympics (London) participation. 

The veteran now deals with a slow recovery process before returning to basketball activities. 

Right now, the only I can do for rehab is just walk. Anybody who has had back surgery, they understand that. You know, for the first month and a half, you can't lift weights. You can't run. You can't do anything but basically walk. 

Howard plans to remain in Atlanta for rehab. Three weeks ago, Washington said it would re-evaluate Howard after two or three months. 

"Every day I try to sit down, and you know, spend at least an hour visualizing, you know, getting healthy, but also returning to the court."


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Wizards fold late, fall to Trae Young and Hawks in Trevor Ariza's debut

Wizards fold late, fall to Trae Young and Hawks in Trevor Ariza's debut

The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 118-110 on Tuesday night. Here are five observations from the game...

1. When the Wizards smashed the Lakers on Sunday night and John Wall dropped 40 points, the team's social media naysayers collectively yawned, 'Let's see them do the same against Atlanta on Tuesday.' Sure enough, those people were right.

Wall and the Wizards did not bring anything close to the same energy against Atlanta that they had vs. L.A. Because the Hawks are terrible, the Wizards were able to hang around until the fourth quarter, but Atlanta pulled away with 36 points in the final frame.

There was plenty not to like about this game from the Wizards' side of things. They shot just 33.3 percent from three (13-for-39) and missed 11 of their 36 free throw attempts.

Wall had one of his worst games. He shot just 33.3 percent from the field and went 3-for-11 from three to the tune of 15 points and six assists. He played only 26 minutes due to foul trouble.

It wasn't as lopsided as their worst defeats this season, but this ranks up there with some of the Wizards' most inexcusable losses of the year so far. Even after making trades to shuffle their bench and team chemistry, the results remain the same. They let a bad team sneak up on them once again.

2. Trevor Ariza made his debut and essentially picked up right where he left off in 2014. He ended up with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and six steals, making a noticeable impact on both ends of the floor. His six steals tied a career-high.

Ariza went 4-for-11 from three with just about all of them on wide-open looks. Ariza was excellent  in his last tenure in D.C. at drifting away from the defense and making them pay from beyond the arc. Wall and Bradley Beal seemed to remember that, as they consistently found him for outside shots. 

The Wizards' overall defensive effort was up-and-down, as they allowed 35 points in the first quarter and 118 for the game. But Ariza was mostly not to blame, as he played smart and measured defense. With the exception of an early play where Kent Bazemore hit an open three, he did a good job closing out on perimeter shots.

The trade of Kelly Oubre Jr. for Ariza may ultimately prove short-sighted, and many fans seem to strongly disagree with the decision. But those are the things we should see over the course of the season that show why Ariza could be an upgrade in the short-term. He will play solid, structured defense with few mistakes or lapses in focus.

3. The fans who paid the price of admission in Atlanta to watch the referees go to work got their money's worth. It was hard to hear Steve Buckhantz with all the whistles.

Seriously, there were so many fouls. The two teams combined for 61 of them. Four Hawks players had four fouls or more and four Wizards players had five or more. That included Markieff Morris, who fouled out in only 17 minutes.

Even clean plays were fouls, like this one. Jeff Green got way up to deny Alex Len, only to have a foul called.

4. Otto Porter Jr. remains out with a right knee contusion, making this the fourth straight game he has missed. He hasn't missed five consecutive games since his rookie year.

With Porter out, head coach Scott Brooks rolled with Jeff Green to start alongside Ariza. Ariza is slated to be in the lineup moving forward, so that pushed out Satoransky, who had made eight straight starts.

Satoransky ended up playing mostly as a backup shooting guard with Sam Dekker at small forward. Chasson Randle, who was recently brought back on a non-guaranteed contract, backed up Wall at point guard. Though that may have had something to do with his defensive matchup on Trae Young, it was surprising.

Ian Mahinmi also got some burn after three straight DNP-CDs. That may have been due to the presence of Len, who is a lot to handle for small-ball fives.

Speaking of big men, Dwight Howard made an appearance on Tuesday. He didn't play, but sat on the bench with the team for the first time since his back surgery.

5. All of those lineup mentions should highlight one notable exclusion. That is Troy Brown Jr., who continues to be on the outside of the rotation looking in. Even with Porter out and Oubre now gone, Brown isn't in the mix.

Brown's inability to get playing time remains a head-scratcher. Yeah, he can't shoot, but he can do so many other things, things that the Wizards need. Whenever he gets spot minutes, he contributes with his passing, rebounding and defense. 

The fact he isn't playing a lot could be expected, as he was drafted outside the lottery by a deep, veteran team. But to not play at all, even when injuries pave the way? That's tough to understand.