ATLANTA – For the first two games of the series, the Wizards’ two best stars – John Wall and Bradley Beal – were better than those of the Atlanta Hawks. Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder were able to flip that Saturday in a 116-98 win at Phillips Arena to rim the series to 2-1.
Schroder (27 points, nine assists) and Millsap (29 points, 14 rebounds) had high percentage looks early and cashed in. Taurean Prince (16 points) and Dwight Howard (five points, 11 rebounds) had smaller but significant roles that helped put them over the top.
Game 4 is Monday at Phillips Arena.
Nothing went right in a 38-20 first quarter for Washington, which found itself down 19-4 just five minutes in.
The Wizards were 1 of 6 on three-point shots while they allowed 5-for-9 from deep. The Hawks had an 18-6 edge in paint points in the first 12 minutes alone.
John Wall (29 points, seven assists) was brilliant offensively as he made 10 of 12 shots and went 8 of 10 from the foul line despite Atlanta doing its best to keep him from the rim.
Offensively, however, Wall didn’t get any support. Bradley Beal (12 points), Otto Porter (seven points) and Markieff Morris (nine points) combined to shoot 7-for-17. Marcin Gortat (two points) was held to one field goal.
--The ball pressure that was present in Games 1 and 2 disappeared. The Hawks were able to catch the ball in their sweet spots and get up shots off lane penetration. Though they started hot, the Hawks’ three-point shooting cooled. They were 3-for-14 from the second quarter to midway point of the fourth. That was still better than the Wizards’ 7-for-29 shooting from three.
--Beal and Porter had clean looks that looked off the moment the shots left their hands. Beal airballed a 12-foot pull up in that went uncontested. Combined with Morris, they shot 8-for-29 in the first half, or 27.5%.
--As Game 2 showed, Jason Smith (two points, four rebounds) isn’t a good matchup with Millsap. Ten seconds after he entered, he had to foul because off the dribble he was beaten. He then picked up a charge. When Smith came back in late in the third, he bit a pump fake from Millsap and committed a Flagrant 1 foul. Smith had three fouls in his first two minutes played. Smith fouled out with 7:11 left in the game on Millsap. He played a total of eight minutes.
--Going in, Schroder wasn’t successful shooting when he had to launch from beyond 5 feet. He was 30.4%. But he lived at the rim in getting 21 of his points in the first half and that rhythm led to him making 3 of 5 threes.
--The open-door defense of Brandon Jennings (13 points) continued vs. Jose Calderon. While Atlanta’s backup only had two points from making his only shot of the first half, he got deep and forced helped. When Calderon moved the ball, it found open shooters which is how his team was 26 of 47 in the first half from the field, or 55.3%. They also were 6 of 13 on threes, or 46.2%. Jennings’ offensive numbers look better because he tallied most of them with the game out of reach late.
--The Wizards only had five first-half assists not because they were playing in isolation but because they weren’t making much. They shot 3 of 14 on threes, or 21.4%. Beal missed all four of his deep balls. Before the starters were pulled late in the third, the starters had just eight assists.
--Kelly Oubre never could get on track. He picked up two fouls in his first seven minutes, including a charging foul when he refused to change direction and plowed into Millsap. Before one minute elapsed to start the second quarter, he was pulled for Porter.
--Porter left with six minutes left in the third quarter after he was picked off by a screen on a layup by Prince. He didn’t return because of a “strained neck.” He collided with Tim Hardaway on a split action, went to the locker room and didn’t return to the bench.
--The Wizards pulled their starters and got the deficit down to 93-79 with 9:16 left in the fourth with Jennings, Tomas Satoransky, Bojan Bogdanovic, Oubre and Smith. A layup by Jennings forced a timeout by Atlanta which re-inserted starters Schroder, Millsap and Prince. The Wizards went back to theirs but the deficit quickly grew.
--Bojan Bogdanvoic (11 points) still isn't in form. He missed all of his looks from three-point range, going 0-for-4.