CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- The Washington Wizards beat the Atlanta Hawks 114-98 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from the game.
1. The Wizards have a long way to go this season without John Wall, as the halfway point is still a week away. But so far, through two games since it was revealed his season was over, Wall's teammates have responded admirably.
After beating the Hornets over the weekend, they followed it up with a win over the Hawks on Wednesday, another team effort defined by balanced scoring distribution and limited mistakes.
All five members of the Wizards' starting lineup reached double-figures. Eight players took six or more shots. They committed only 10 turnovers and sent the Hawks to the line only 13 times.
The Wizards have now won two straight games for the first time since Dec. 5. They remain eight games under .500 at 15-23, but are showing signs of life and that they can continue to compete with Wall out.
2. Amidst a season of turmoil and disappointment, Thomas Bryant remains a revelation.
The second-year center put in another impressive game and this time opposite one of the league's most talented young big men, John Collins. Bryant had 16 points and 15 rebounds, including 16 points and nine boards in the first half alone.
Bryant made his first five shots and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He is showing a lot of promise for a 21-year-old. He's big, fast and athletic and is a quick-learner.
Who's stopping Thomas Bryant? Nobody. Don't @ us pic.twitter.com/RnnLVBxKMi— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) January 3, 2019
Bryant's progression has convinced head coach Scott Brooks to trust him deeper into games. When he was first named the starter in November, Bryant often exited after only 17 or 18 minutes.
But now he's playing until the end and on Wednesday that worked in the Wizards' favor. He helped seal the victory with some key defensive plays including a block on DeAndre' Bembry in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.
3. Otto Porter Jr. returned in this one after missing 10 games with a right knee contusion. He was back, but not in the starting lineup and on a minutes restriction. Brooks said pregame he didn't want to play Porter more than 20 minutes. He played 14.
It was a quiet return for Porter. He looked rusty and was not completely up to speed. Soon after entering the game late in the first quarter, he lost the ball when posting up Jeremy Lin and right after that missed bad on a reverse layup attempt.
Porter got it going a bit in the second half. He finished with nine points and two assists and shot 4-for-8 from the field. Regardless of his so-so night, it was a good sign for the Wizards simply to get him back. Now they can look forward to the return of Markieff Morris, who is awaiting word from a specialist on his stiff neck.
4. We might be sleeping on how much Trevor Ariza can help the Wizards offense now with Wall out. He isn't known for his scoring ability and will rarely go off for 20-plus points, but he makes smart decisions both on and off the ball.
Ariza had a modest 12 points in this game, but affected the Wizards' offense in many other ways. He does a good job of moving as soon as he's passed the ball to keep defenders off-balance and is an underrated passer. Ariza had four assists to go along with five rebounds and a steal.
Against the Hawks, Ariza even turned back the clocks to throw down a poster-dunk on Daniel Hamilton, a guy 10 years his junior. He also dropped Hawks guard Kevin Huerter to the floor on a catch-and-go move.
With Wall and Dwight Howard out, the Wizards will need Ariza to be one of their primary scoring options some nights. He looked the part against Atlanta.
5. Collins and Alex Len gave the Wizards a lot of trouble the last time these teams played and that was the case once again. Collins went off for 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists and Len put up 24 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Even with Bryant in the mix, the Wizards continue to have problems keeping young and athletic big men off the glass. Collins presents a variety of problems with his size and speed and Len is a force on the block. They both had their way with the Wizards.
Interestingly enough, one guy who had some success guarding them in the post was Tomas Satoransky. The Wizards guard faced up with each of them and forced misses. Those plays were a reminder of Satoransky's unique versatility.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
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- John Wall vs. Stephen A. Smith: A play-by-play of the feud
- Who's Next? These guys can step up for the Wizards
- Without Wall: Wizards believe they can make playoffs
- Options, Options: What can Wizards do with Wall out for the year?