The Atlanta Hawks went into tonight’s game with a motive – the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Washington Wizards on the other hand, did not need a motive. They were playing for a win. Regardless of the fact that they would not be participating in this year’s playoffs, they seemed determined to end their season on a winning note. John Wall would not be playing for the Wizards, which would potentially give the Hawk’s Jeff Teague a chance to excel offensively.
High scoring early
The Wizards dominated first quarter regardless of the absence of star player John Wall. The Hawks gained more control towards the end of the first quarter, but the Wizards were never far behind. Both teams shot well over 50 percent in the quarter, with the Hawks shooting 57 percent and the Wizards shooting 52. The high scoring period ended with a tie at 33.
The battle for the lead continued well into the second quarter as both teams continued to put up points. As anticipated, Teague led the half for Atlanta with 14 points and three assists, and Nene Hilario stepped up for Washington with 12 points and five assists. The half ended with the Hawks leading 59-57. The Hawks dominated field goals, shooting 48 percent (compared to the Wizards' 43 percent), free throws 14-19 and three pointers 7-16. On the other hand, Washington maintained a slight lead in rebounds, assists, and turnovers.
Wizards take control as Hawks fall apart
The game took a surprising turn in the second half. Washington increased their lead to seven points almost halfway through the third period. After a timeout, Al Horford hit a three point jump shot from 26 feet out to temporarily decrease the Wizards' lead, but it hardly made a difference as Washington flamboyantly and consistently made buckets. With just under four minutes remaining in the period, the Wizards dominated the game 77-67 with a 16-3 run. Things only got worse for the Hawks as they went on to miss 11 straight shots and it became a 13 point game. After a last second jump shot by Dennis Schroder, the Hawks managed to end the period trailing 84-76, keeping hope alive heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter began with the Hawks forcing turnovers early. A three point jump shot by Schroder, followed by two free throws by Mike Scott, made it a one-point ball game. What seemed like a major comeback wouldn't’t last. Halfway through the quarter, the Wizards, largely due to shots by Ramon Sessions, had returned to their ten-point lead over the Hawks.
The game only flew further out of reach for the Hawks as they continued to fall apart, with a final score of 109-98. Overall, Washington outshot Atlanta 48 percent to 40 percent, and slightly held an advantage in rebounds, assists, and turnovers, all contributing to their win. It was as if the Hawks had underestimated the overall will-power of the Wizards without Wall.