The Wizards led by as many as 15 points Friday night against the Hawks, but the team with the league's worst record fought back to keep it tight down the stretch.
Washington, a battled-tested bunch, simply made more plays and took better shots when it mattered. Ish Smith was the orchestrator, Ian Mahinmi added timely rim protection and Jordan McRae hit two huge threes to help the Wizards pull away.
This was a much-needed win for the Wizards, who will host the Jazz Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Here are five takeaways from the game.
Davis Bertans doesn't miss a beat
Davis Bertans made his return from a nine-game absence due to a quad injury against the Hawks and it took him almost no time to get reacclimated.
In his first stint off the bench, he immediately took two threes. He missed the first but canned the second coming off a screen.
BERTANS DIDN'T MISS A BEAT 🔥 HE BACK— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) January 11, 2020
With the clock running down in the first quarter, Smith found Bertans on a back cut to the rim and the Latvian Laser showed off some power with a hammer dunk.
The Wizards were able to stay afloat while dealing with an unbelievable amount of bad injury luck, but after a 34-point loss on the road in Orlando, they may have run out of steam.
Getting Bertans back in the rotation should give the Wizards' ball handlers more space to operate while of course giving the offense the kind of firepower it's lacked for the better part of two weeks.
Troy Brown continues to show promise off the bench
By now, most of us are aware of Try Brown's two personas for the Wizards.
There's Starter Troy, who averages 6.4 points, shoots 35.5 percent from the floor and 17.9 percent from three and looks nothing like the player Washington drafted in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
Then there's Bench Troy, who's way more confident with the ball in his hand, plays better defense and looks like a player to keep around long term. Brown averages 13 points, six rebounds and 2.4 assists as a reserve and shoots around 50 percent from the floor and a promising 36.5 percent from three.
The Wizards got Bench Troy Friday night and have enjoyed six straight double-digit scoring games from him since the new decade began.
Washington most likely wants Startet Troy to play a little more like Bench Troy at some point down the line, but for now they should keep him on the bench and allow him to continue to develop his strengths.
The Isaiah Thomas conundrum
Isaiah Thomas came to Washington to revamp his career after a hip injury took nearly two years away from him. At times he's provided value shooting the ball, but lately, he's struggled and been a net negative.
He went 2-16 from the floor for five points against the Hawks. Thomas used to torture defenses going downhill, finishing in traffic and getting to the free-throw line at will.
It just doesn't look like his body will let him score that way anymore, so when his jumper isn't falling, it's going to be a struggle for him offensively.
Maybe with more time Thomas will get his feel back and return to form as a player who can give you 20 points every night. The Wizards don't have playoff aspirations this season as far as I'm aware, so they probably don't need to take him out of the rotation completely.
But if Thomas wants a contract for next season and beyond, he'll have to find a way to get his feel on the floor back.
Wizards contain Young
Coming off a game where Trae Young put up 42 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against the Rockets, the Wizards could have fallen victim to another big game from the second-year sensation.
The Wizards contained Young pretty well in this one though. He went 7-20 from the floor and finished with 19 points, four rebounds and six assists and had to rely on his wings to make shots. Gary Payton II did an especially fine job forcing the ball out of Young's hands and using his bigger frame to keep him in front.
Last year, the Wizards defended Young better than any other team, so maybe Scott Brooks is up to something.
Vince Carter appreciation section
Watching Vince Carter play in an NBA game in 2020 is surreal. The man is 42 years old running around with some guys who weren't even born when he was drafted.
On top of it all, he's still out there trying to make winning plays. In the first quarter, Carter tried to take a charge on Smith in the backcourt. It didn't work for him, but I applaud the effort.
Friday was Carter's 1,513th career game, which is fourth-most in NBA history behind Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dirk Nowitzki. Carter plans to retire after the 2019-20 season, so Wizards fans will only have one more chance to see him play in person (Mar. 6).
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