The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 113-99 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...
Same problems continue: Somehow, it happened again.
After beating the first-place Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, Wednesday offered a unique test for a Wizards team that has made a habit of playing down to lesser opponents. The Wizards failed that test. After netting arguably their best win of the season, the Wizards followed it up with one of their worst defeats.
This wasn't the blowout loss we saw against the Nets over the weekend, but it was bad. The Hawks entered this game with the worst record in the NBA. They let pretty much all of their best players go this offseason and are on a straight shot to the lottery. They are certifiably terrible, yet they overcame a 10-point first quarter deficit to win by 14.
The Wizards came into this riding a two-game win streak. They were feeling good about themselves and said all the right things. But 48 minutes later and the Wizards lost another game to a bad team.
The Wizards are now 9-10 against teams with sub-.500 records. Those 10 losses are more than any other NBA team and one more than they had all of last season. That is not normal for a team this talented.
That record against losing teams is countered by their impressive 10-6 mark against teams at .500 or better. That's the best record in the East. If they could only figure out how to beat bad teams, they will be fine. But we have been saying that for weeks.
Wall and Beal weren't themselves: Wall finished with his third straight double-double, but he never found a real scoring rhythm. The Hawks did a good job keeping guys in front of him and playing help defense to limit his trips into the lane. There were times where Wall got right by Dennis Schroder and others, but they weren't as frequent as we are used to.
The numbers bear that out. Wall shot just 3-for-9 and was limited to 10 points to go along with his 11 assists. Wall did a good job setting others up, but what makes him great is his ability to also affect the game as a scorer. That impact wasn't there against the Hawks.
Bradley Beal was also off. He shot just 7-for-19 (36.8%) despite finishing with 20 points, six rebounds and three steals. Since Beal went off for 85 points in two games on Dec. 5 and 7, he's shot just 38.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three in 10 games. That's just not him.
Otto, Oubre and Keef stayed hot: This wasn't the best game for the Wizards, but they continued to see encouraging signs from forwards Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Markieff Morris. Porter had 15 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He wasn't great in his first game back, but has averaged 17.3 points in his last three games while shooting 57.5 percent shooting.
Oubre put in 11 points and hit 3-of-5 from three. He has reached double figures in 24 of 35 games this season. Last year he had 24 double-digit scoring nights in 79 games. Morris came out hot again with 10 points in eight minutes and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. He went 2-for-3 from three.
Morris, though, had four turnovers and another technical. Though he has only played in 27 of the Wizards' 35 games, Morris has seven technicals and leads the Eastern Conference. Only DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have more. Cousins has nine and the other two have eight.
Collins is impressive: Atlanta may have found a good one in rookie John Collins. The 19th overall pick, Collins affected this game in all sorts of ways despite being held to eight points, below his 11.7 per game average. He's very fast and agile for a 6-foot-10 forward. There were several sequences where he made plays at both rims back-to-back.
Collins finished as a +18 and also had eight rebounds. He got Beal twice on chasedown blocks and affected many shots along the way. The Hawks have a long road back to legitimacy after losing Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway, Jr., but Collins is already proving himself to be a worthy building block.
Up next: The Wizards are off Thursday before hosting James Harden and the Rockets, one of the best teams in the NBA. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
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