Early on Tuesday night it looked like the Atlanta Hawks might miss an opportunity to pull out a key road win in Washington. Despite holding the Wizards to less than 30 percent shooting in the first quarter, Atlanta was unable to find any kind of consistent offensive rhythm and thus unable to make any separation. The score stayed close until the Hawks found that rhythm in the fourth quarter with a 12-0 run to take control of the game.
This was Atlanta's second straight solid defensive effort as the Wizards only climbed to above 40 percent shooting after their offensive outburst in the final 40 seconds of the game. For Atlanta it has to be somewhat refreshing to beat a good team on the road in an uncharacteristic way. Atlanta had to grind this game out and finished shooting just 43 percent themselves and 28 percent from three-point range. Kyle Korver was held without a field goal and to just two points as Washington focused the majority of their defensive attention to the perimeter. Atlanta countered by attacking the basket and finished with 48 points in the paint and were 27-34 from the free throw line.
Here are some more thoughts from Tuesday's win in Washington:
Hawks get big performance from their bench unit.
Mike Scott snapped out of a mini slump with 17 points and helped fuel Atlanta's fourth quarter run. Paul Millsap picked up his fourth foul with just over four minutes to go in the third quarter. Scott came in and helped bridge the gap for Atlanta. Millsap eventually joined Scott in Atlanta's frontcourt as the Hawks closed the game without a true center on the floor.
Shelvin Mack added 13 points and five assists and knocked down a pair of three pointers. Atlanta got 41 points from its bench on Tuesday with Scott and Mack accounting for 30 of that total.
Jeff Teague continues to drive the Hawks
Jeff Teague scored 28 points for the second consecutive game and is becoming the team's counter for when defenses pay extra attention to Korver. Teague is playing so well right now that the drop off is apparent whenever he isn't into the game. That isn't a suggestion that Dennis Schröder is playing bad, it just speaks to where Teague's game is currently.
Teague tested Washington's perimeter defense going by John Wall and pretty much any other player they tried to put in front of him. The Wizards switched a lot of Atlanta's pick and rolls and that often left Teague with a favorable matchup against a back peddling big.
Teague finished 12-14 from the free throw line on Tuesday and has attempted 22 free throws in his last two games. The moniker around these parts has always been that an aggressive Teague is the best Teague and he has certainly shown that of late.
Teague takes his lumps defensively sometimes but he appears to be working hard on that end of the floor as well. His counterpart John Wall finished with 21 points and 13 assists but was just 6-15 from the floor and turned the ball over seven times.
Paul Millsap continues to step up while Al Horford continues to find his way
Millsap logged his second straight double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in all 12 of Atlanta's games this season. He has been the guy that the Hawks can depend on each and every night and that has been important with Al Horford still feeling his way back from injury.
Horford didn't play poorly on Tuesday finishing with seven points and four rebounds on 3-4 shooting but was on the bench down the stretch as Mike Budenholzer stuck with the group that helped get Atlanta the lead. Horford's shot is starting to come around and he is 17-24 from the field over his last three games. He still appears to be rushing things a bit inside but it looks like he is making progress. Over the next month or so we should see his usage rate start to climb as he becomes more and more comfortable.