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Hawks reserves fuel late push after starters flame out


Hawks reserves fuel late push after starters flame out

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer didn't officially throw in the towel with seven minutes remaining in Game 3 and Atlanta trailing by 18 points. He also didn't have his primary players on the court. The Wizards dominated the top seed to that point for a 94-76 advantage. There was no sense the final minutes would prove different.

"We didn't play well," the coach conceded. "You never know what's going to happen, but most likely you feel like you're not going to be able to close that gap."

Of course, that's exactly what the Hawks did. Using a lineup loaded with reserves, - "They went kind of radical there at the end," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said -, Atlanta scored the next 17 points.

They erased the entire deficit on forward Mike Mucala's 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds remaining. 

They eventually lost when Paul Pierce did what Paul Pierce does: Make clutch shots. Pierce drained a game-winning step back jumper at the buzzer to give the Wizards a thrilling 103-101 win and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series on Saturday night.

The Hawks fell on the final Truth bomb, but they were run out of the gym for most of the game. 

"None of us in our locker room feel great about the way we competed for the first three quarters," the NBA's Coach of the Year said. "It was not inspirational."

It's what happened over the final minutes that Atlanta hopes becomes its true takeaway. The Hawks outscored the Wizards 35-18 and forced five turnovers including multiple 24-second shot clock violations in the fourth quarter.

“I think we just competed as a team, I think the second unit did an amazing job of competing, running back and getting rebounds, and we just competed," said Dennis Schroder, who scored all 18 of his points after halftime. 

Kyle Korver was the lone Atlanta starter on the court late in the game. One of the league's elite 3-point shooters, he missed both of his deep attempts in the final period. 

“That was an interesting playoff game," said Korver, who didn't score after the first quarter. "The bottom line is they had their way with us for three quarters. They were more physical, and just kind of pushed us around and we didn’t respond well.

"The guys that came in for us in the fourth quarter gave us a huge lift and that was a great thing to see, but overall we got to play with more fire.”

The debate Budenholzer will have with himself in the hours after the loss and leading into Monday's Game 4 is this: Did the Hawks find a formula in the final minutes or show their true colors over the opening three quarters?

"I think to have a visual of what it takes is always a positive, but i think the feeling that was there the majority of the game is important too," he said. "I don't know which is stronger or more important. They're both real."

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Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, UMBC's upset hero


Wizards' first pre-draft workout to feature Kentucky's Hamidou Diallo, UMBC's upset hero

The Washington Wizards will hold their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday at Capital One Arena and the group of six players features some familiar names. 

Included in the mix is guard Jairus Lyles, who starred for the Unversity of Maryland-Baltimore County and helped lead them as a 16-seed over top-ranked Virginia in the NCAA Tournament. It was the first 16-over-a-1 upset in the tournament's history.

Here are the six players with some notes on each one...

Chris Chiozza, guard, Florida (6-0, 175)

Chiozza played four years at Florida and finished as the school's all-time assists leader. He averaged 11.1 points, 6.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a senior.

Hamidou Diallo, guard, Kentucky (6-5, 198)

Diallo redshirted in 2016-17 and played one season for the Wildcats. He averaged 10.0 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from the field. Diallo measured 6-foot-6 with shoes at the combine and boasts a 7-foot wingspan.

Tiwian Kendley, guard, Morgan State (6-5, 190)

Kendly was a big-time scorer at Morgan St., averaging 21.0 points as a redshirt junior and 26.1 points as a senior. He took a lot of shots, however, averaging 18.2 field goal attempts on 45.3 percent from the field this past season. Kendley starred at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Maryland before joining the college ranks, first at Lamar Community College.

Jairus Lyles, guard, UMBC (6-2, 175)

Lyles was the leading scorer for the Retrievers this past season as they became the biggest underdog Cinderella in NCAA history, defeating the No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 20.2 points and shot 39.0 percent from three on 6.1 attempts. Lyles began his college career at VCU and played high school ball at nearby DeMatha.

Doral Moore, center, Wake Forest (7-1, 280)

A three-year player at Wake Forest, Moore had a breakout season as a junior with averages of 11.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Moore played with Sixers star Ben Simmons in high school.

Ray Spalding, forward, Louisville (6-10, 215)

Spalding played three years at Louisville and averaged 12.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.5 steals per game as a junior. He posted a 7-5 wingspan at the NBA Combine. Spalding played with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in college. 

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Mike Scott

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2017-18 salary: $1.7 million

2017-18 stats: 76 G, 18.5 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 52.7 FG%, 40.5 3P%, 65.8 FT%, 59.0 eFG%, 109 ORtg, 111 DRtg

Best game: 12/9 at Clippers - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 9-for-11 FG, 3-for-4 3PT, 28 minutes

Season review: The 2017-18 Wizards season was full of unpredictability and the most positive surprise had to be the comeback of Mike Scott.

The Wizards signed Scott to a veteran minimum contract last offseason after a workout at Capital One Arena. This came just months after he had felony drug charges dropped in the state of Georgia, he lost 25 pounds and rehabbed a leg injury. That spring he had wondered, and justifiably, if his NBA career was over.

Scott overcame all of those odds to not only return to the NBA, but re-establish himself as a productive player off the bench. No one was more consistent start-to-finish in the Wizards' second unit than Scott was.

Scott earned a significant role in head coach Scott Brooks' rotation out of the preseason and stayed there. He reached double-figures in 31 of his 76 games, second only to Kelly Oubre, Jr. on the Wizards. 

Scott's primary value was on offense. He scored inside and out and got his points with remarkable efficiency. He led the Wizards and was tied for 11th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. He was second on Washington in field goal percentage and third in three-point percentage. 

Scott closed the season strong, reaching double-figures in scoring in seven of the last nine regular season games. He carried that over into the playoffs with 46 points through their first three games against the Raptors. 

Now comes the question of how much money Scott earned himself with his comeback year and whether the Wizards can afford keeping him. Since they are in the luxury tax, they will have little money to spend this summer. 

The way to keep Scott would be to use the remainder of their taxpayer mid-level exception, but that figures to be only about $1.9 million, not much more than what Scott made in 2017-18. Given how well he played this season, it would not be surprising if he earns much more than that.

Potential to improve: Free throw shooting, forcing turnovers, ability to guard bigs

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

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