The Atlanta Hawks lost their second straight game on Friday evening, falling to Washington by a final of 95-92. Atlanta’s record now stands at 3-2, after three early wins and two consecutive losses.
While there were many reasons for the loss, the most obvious was a lack of offense and shooting. This was a problem throughout the game, as Atlanta put up just 34 points in the first half on 28.9% shooting. No starter made a 3-pointer during the half, and the team as a whole looked a little sluggish. At halftime, Washington led 48-35 and the Hawks had produced their worst offensive half of the young season.
The Hawks cut the lead to eight (trailing 71-63) at the end of the third quarter. This success speaks to the defense more than the offense, though, since the team’s shooting percentage was still under 35% going into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks continued to look sluggish as the fourth quarter started, but after two Dwight Howard free throws, a Howard layup, and a Malcolm Delaney three-pointer, Atlanta trailed 78-76 at the 7:10 mark. The teams traded baskets for several possessions, but, with a Bradley Beal 3-pointer, the Wizards pushed the lead back up to seven with just under four minutes left.
Atlanta stayed close from that point on, but never quite closed the gap. The team had a chance to tie the game late, holding the ball and a three point deficit with 11 seconds left, but Kyle Korver air-balled a 3-pointer, after a broken play, to effectively end the team’s chances.
Both teams needed a win tonight with Atlanta hoping to wipe out a bad loss to the Lakers, while Washington looked to avoid an 0-4 start (and an 0-2 record against the Hawks). Ultimately, Washington prevailed on the strength of their defense.
Although Atlanta looked bad for a lot of the evening, there are still some positives to take away from the loss. Even with an anemic offense and poor shooting, the defense was strong enough to keep the Hawks in the game and a few more made shots could have changed the outcome.
However, the Hawks absolutely have to shoot better to sustain success. The team finished the night at 38.6% from the floor and 20% (5 of 25) from three-point range, and will look to improve those numbers in the future.
Next up, the Hawks play the Houston Rockets in Atlanta on Saturday, as the team finishes up its first back-to-back of the year.