Wizards unable to slow down Atlanta from three


The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 118-111 on the road on Monday night. Here are five observations from what went down...

Tough loss

The Wizards may have beaten the Hawks last week at home, but the Hawks are a very deep and talented team and they reminded Washington of that on Monday by getting revenge, this time on their homecourt. Atlanta snatched the lead from the Wizards with just under four minutes to go in the first quarter and never really looked back.

The Hawks fought off run after run by the Wizards, who could not close the gap. While they entered the game ranked as one of the best 3-point defenses in the NBA, that did not carry over for Washington as the Hawks shot 13-for-34 (38.2%) from long range. Bogdan Bogdanovic (16 points, 4-6 3PT), Danilo Gallinari (12 points, 4-7 3PT) and Cam Reddish (15 points, 3-6 3PT) did a lot of the damage.

It also didn't help there was a major free throw disparity. The Hawks entered the game averaging 15.8 free throw attempts per game, but they went 20-for-20 from the line in the first half. That was compared to 5-for-5 for the Wizards, who before this game topped the league with 25.2 attempts per contest. The Wizards finished 16-for-16 for the night, while the Hawks shot 29-for-29. There were 45 attempts and nobody missed a shot.

It was actually a pretty rare game. It was only the fifth time in NBA history two opponents shot 100% from the free throw line with at least 16 makes apiece.


The Wizards are now 5-2 after seven games this season. That is still their best start since 2014-15.

Gafford's return

The Wizards tweeted out some excellent news Monday afternoon, that Daniel Gafford would return after a two-game absence due to a right quad contusion. That he only missed two games seems like a miracle given how bad it looked when he first hurt himself last week against the Celtics. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said he would be monitored due to his conditioning, but expressed confidence pregame that he would be the "same Daniel."

That he was, as Gafford made a noticeable impact right away. He scored the Wizards' first points on a tough layup in traffic, then blocked a shot on the other end. He ended up with four points, five rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes. That's a solid return that could have been better if he didn't get into foul trouble.

Beal's threes

Bradley Beal is doing a lot of things to help the Wizards win games this season with his overall scoring, his rebounding and his improved defense. But he has had some major trouble getting outside shots to fall. While he scored 24 points against the Hawks, he shot just 3-for-11 from long range. 

Through six games this season, Beal is now 11-for-48 from deep, good for 22.9%. He hasn't shot the three-ball like he did early in his career in recent years, but all of a sudden it has dropped off a cliff. What's interesting is the Wizards are generating the types of looks Unseld Jr. wants to see more of. He knows Beal has continued to make catch-and-shoot threes at a high rate, even last season when he knocked down 38.7% of them compared to a career-low 34.9% from three overall. 

Beal was an elite 3-point shooter earlier in his career largely because he didn't have to create a ton of his looks off the dribble. The Wizards are trying to get him back to that and so far the looks have been there. Given his career percentages, odds are they will start dropping at some point.

Avdija played well

Second-year forward Deni Avdija had arguably his best game of the season so far with nine points, a steal and a block in 18 minutes. He shot 4-for-5 from the field and knocked down one three. The best of Avdija was on display; he defended well and made crafty plays off the dribble in the halfcourt. One of his first baskets came on a catch-and-go where he drove right and deftly laid it in with his left hand. He got a dunk just by hustling on the fastbreak to trail Spencer Dinwiddie (14 points, 10 assists).

Avdija and Gafford playing well was a reminder the Wizards have a decent group of young players developing in their system. While the veteran depth and savvy has stood out so far this season, they have a collection of young guys with fairly high ceilings. Rui Hachimura remains out of the mix, yet it's still evident. The best way for this team to really surprise people is if one or two of their young guys make a leap. It's too early to tell if either Avdija or Gafford will make a significant one this season, but they looked good on Monday.


Bertans left injured

Davis Bertans left this game in the second quarter with a left ankle sprain. He got free driving down the lane as Gorgui Dieng got in position under the rim. Instead of trying a floater, Bertans tried to elevate over him and, ostensibly, attempt a poster dunk.

It didn't work. He got a foul called, but came down hard on his left ankle and was in obvious pain. Bertans was able to knock down two free throws, but after a quick timeout he exited for the locker room. With Bertans out, the Wizards gave rookie Corey Kispert some more run. He was able to hit his first career three and finish with five points in 11 minutes.