The road team has yet to win a game in the series, and Wednesday held to form as the Wizards pulled out a 103-99 victory to take a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Hawks in front of a sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.
Bradley Beal (27 points) and John Wall (20 points, 14 assists, six rebounds) led the way in a game that stayed close throughout between the No. 4 and 5 seeds.
Game 6 is Friday at Phillips Arena and if a Game 7 is necessary it’ll be Sunday at Verizon.
The Wizards were able to limit Atlanta’s effectiveness in the paint. After scoring 60 points there in a Game 4 win, the Hawks were held to 36.
Better support came from the role players for Washington, too, as Otto Porter (17 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (14 points) made clutch shots.
The Wizards appeared headed to a comfortable finish up 98-91, but the Hawks made another run before Beal knocked down a jumper out of timeout and Wall hit one from the foul line to make it a two-possession game with 47.5 seconds left.
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Dennis Schroder (29 points, 11 assists) and Paul Millsap (21 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles for Atlanta which didn’t get as big of a showing from Dwight Howard (five points, 10 rebounds) because of foul trouble. Tim Hardaway (15 points) and Taurean Prince (10 points, six rebounds) contributed but they didn’t get much from the other players on the roster.
Kent Bazemore and Jose Calderon, who combined for 26 points and 12 assists in Game 4, had just a total of eight points and three assists.
--A third scorer emerged in Porter, who had an outburst to begin the third quarter to spark a 10-2 run. Porter consecutive two threes and a pair of foul shots as the lead grew to 69-58 but it quickly evaporated as Hardaway knocked down long-range shots. Porter only needed four shots to get his 17 points, getting to the foul line 10 times.
--The Wizards called a few postups for Gortat that were not successful as they cut the deficit to 86-83. When they went to Millsap at the five with10:20 left in the game, Gortat had his way again with the forward. He didn’t score much himself but didn’t need to do so. He set screens that allowed the guards to get into the paint without rim protection to thwart their attack. Gortat finally got his first foul shots of the series on a drive to the rim with 6:09, making both for a 94-89 lead. It also represented his first points of the game.
--On Millsap’s first post up on Morris, the Wizards sent Wall on a double-team to get the seal and a foul at 8:24 of first quarter. It’s a strategy that they hadn’t used during the series and Millsap ended up on the bench with three first-half fouls with 1:44 left in the half. Porter helped Smith by doubling Millsap but Gortat blew the help on Prince who had an uncontested dunk. Porter also came from the far weakside of the floor to double and the Wizards had success.
--Down 34-27, the Wizards got back in it with Howard and Millsap on the floor. During a 7-0 run, Morris played center and they got away with the undersized Porter at the four spot. By the time Gortat returned, the Wizards were up 38-36 and went into the half ahead 50-49.
--Howard was the most aggressive that he has been all series as he ran out on shooters and came up on the ballhandler on pick-and-rolls. Howard went to the bench with four fouls with 2:34 left in the third on Beal’s drive to the basket so it came at a price.
--Bogdanovic had his best start to a game with eight first-half points on five shots. He made both of his three-pointers as well as he was pivotal in the second-quarter run. He appeared to draw a third foul on Howard but it was overturned on review when it was determined the shot clock had expired first on a drive.
--Morris still had foul trouble. He picked up his third at 5:18 of the second quarter as he made 4 of 9 shots. His third didn’t come on Millsap, however, as he helped on Howard and struck him on a dunk attempt. Morris had a rejection of Hardaway at the rim with 3:59 left that came after Gortat swatted Schroder. Morris picked up his fifth foul – and a technical at 3:20 – when he dove to the floor for a loose ball. He dove for it along with Millsap who fell over the top of him and appeared to have a strong case to be upset.
--Up 50-45, the Hawks ended the half on a 4-0 run. Bogdanovic switched back to Prince, made him change direction with his dribble and throw a lob to Howard for a dunk. Gortat didn’t come up high enough to trap him aggressively or needed to stay pinned to his man. Prince’s ball handling is suspect and forcing him to shoot off one foot on the dribble might’ve been the better decision.
--Jason Smith (left calf contusion) left the game in the third and didn’t return. He played 16 minutes and only made 2 of 9 shots for five points.