With 11 seconds remaining, the Atlanta Hawks had the ball with a chance to pull off an unlikely victory, but when Jeff Teague's reverse lay-up attempt went begging, the Washington Wizards were able to finish things off with a final score of 101-97.
The Hawks bookended the first half with a pair of nice runs in route to a 2-point lead at the break. Atlanta began the game with a 21-11 spurt that saw the team make 9 of their first 13 shots, and after the Wizards closed that gap in a hurry to actually reclaim the lead after 12 minutes, Atlanta responded in kind. Pero Antic scored 9 points during an 11-2 run by the Hawks to snatch the lead back down the stretch of the second quarter, and that helped to propel the offense to an outstanding 55% clip from the field in the half.
After the break, the Hawks got off to a fast start, racing to an 11-4 run that included threes by Cartier Martin, Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap to push the score to 63-54. However, Washington continued to further the "game of runs", and when the dust settled on the 3rd quarter, it was the Wizards who had come from behind to grab a 75-71 lead after a 9-1 closing spurt. From there, the Hawks would never regain the lead again, but they did climb within 2 after a Jeff Teague 3-point play with 39.8 seconds remaining, and as mentioned above, Atlanta had the ball with a chance to win on the final trip.
As a team, the Hawks simply couldn't generate the requisite offense after halftime, and the shots refused to fall at times. Atlanta shot just 12 for 40 (30%) from the floor after the break, and when compared to the aforementioned 55% clip in the first 24 minutes, it was a steep, visible drop-off. Using the eye test, the execution didn't slip precipitously after the break, but the open shots weren't converted, and that's a recipe for disaster on the road against a reasonably solid opponent.
There were a few solid efforts from members of the Atlanta roster, but there was nothing remotely spectacular about the proceedings. Paul Millsap (17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) and Jeff Teague (19 points) led the way from a production standpoint, and big man Pero Antic had a nice night with 13 points and 12 rebounds after a short absence with an ankle injury. The bench had disastrous numbers from a plus-minus standpoint, and with the exception of some flashes from Dennis Schroder (and to a lesser extent, Lou Williams), reserves like Mike Scott (who has made only 2 of his last 21 three-point attempts) struggled visibly to keep up with Washington's veterans.
Thanks to the roster challenges presented by injury absences in this game, there were a few interesting notes. Cartier Martin, who received a "DNP - Coach's Decision" during Thursday's loss to Portland, got the start with DeMarre Carroll on the shelf, and he put together a big night. Martin scored 13 points on 5 for 8 shooting and added 4 rebounds and 2 steals to provide a much-needed lift. In addition, big man Elton Brand received a somewhat inexplicable DNP in this game, further lending credence to the segment of Hawks nation that believes the team is in full-on tanking mode.
Next up for the Hawks is a home date with the Philadelphia 76ers (fresh off a victory!) on Monday night, and it will be quite interesting what the roster construction looks like when that game tips off in Philips Arena, especially with the playoff lead shrinking after six straight defeats.