It wasn’t a good night for the Washington Wizards, after dropping a tough game the night before in Cleveland, they came home only to get beat by the visiting Atlanta Hawks. Bradley Beal led all scorers with 32 points, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of Washington’s level of play in the 103-97 loss to the Hawks. Taurean Prince led Atlanta with 23 points, including 10 in the fourth period. Tyler Dorsey chipped in with 22, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. Neither team shot the ball especially well in the first half, but the Hawks finished the game shooting 48% from the floor to Washington’s 40%. Defense wasn’t the cause of the misses for either team, both teams struggled to get stops. The biggest difference in the outcome of this game was that Atlanta really wanted it, they won nearly every 50-50 ball and were extremely active on the glass, they also did a great job of sprinting as a team in transition. As for the Wizards, they played with that familiar lack of urgency they’ve displayed at times this season. The bigger issue for Washington was that the ball didn’t move nearly enough and Scott Brooks wasn’t happy with it in the least bit.
“Not passing the ball to one another, it’s as simple as that. Nobody wanted to share the basketball tonight, and when you do that you end up taking bad shots. And when you take bad shots, you end up missing.” -Scott Brooks
The Wizards have been one of the better teams in the league at generating assists since the All-Star break, tonight they had just 18 assists. Routinely in transition the ball got stuck, it also happened in half court settings as well. Players would settle for the good shot versus making the extra pass for the great shot, couple the misses with not getting back in transition and Atlanta got their fair share of easy baskets. Washington did retake the lead several times, but the lack of ball movement forced bad offensive possessions which essentially became turnovers. It’s hard to win like that, those bad possessions definitely played a role in the 16-4 Atlanta run that closed the game.
Brooks wasn’t too happy after the game and he had every reason to be, it’s far too late in the year to have these issues and as he said, it’s time for “action.” Washington’s players have talked about things they need to correct all season long, with the playoffs arriving in a week, it’s time for action and nothing else. The Hawks win meant that the two teams split the season series.
Defending the 3: Wiz continued rend from loss in Cleveland and left numerous ATL shooters open in the first half. Fortunately Atlanta will be picking high in this year’s draft for a reason, the youngsters couldn’t make Washington pay nearly enough to the level Cleveland did. Although, those 11 made three pointers were enough, especially Mike Muscala’s late in the fourth that gave the Hawks some cushion.
Dorsey/Prince: Big minutes in third period by scoring eight of his 22 points, made Wizards pay for late closeouts and going under screens. Sparked the 14-4 run in the third to retake the lead and held an eight point lead with 2:16 left in the period. Prince caused problems for Washington early and late, his sheer activity led to extra possessions and trips to the line, he scored 10 points in the final period to help Atlanta secure the win.
Beal: He scored a game high 32 points, but it came off 24 attempts. If you’re looking solely at the box score, 12-of-24 is 50% from the floor and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there were several possessions in which he held the ball a big too long, now he wasn’t the only culprit on the Wizards, but some of those possessions that didn’t end with the ball in the basket may have been best served by moving the ball. Again, this wasn’t an issue that he had alone. The team as a whole didn’t move the ball nearly well enough and they wasted costly possessions. Brad has done a good job of facilitating at times this season, so it’s not something he hasn’t proved he can do.
Defensive lapses: This quote from Coach Brooks sums it all up, “Defensively, we made the same mistakes. [We] get beat backdoor, we get beat offensive rebounds. We don’t help the helper. When you don’t do that, you hope that they miss, and you’re playing with fire.” They literally got burned against Atlanta due to the issues he mentioned. The playoffs start next week, the Wizards don’t have a lot of time to get their act together.