The Atlanta Hawks were, again, without No. 12 overall pick Taurean Prince on Sunday, but for the second straight game, the team was able to pick up a victory. Point guard play buoyed the Hawks throughout the afternoon, and in the end, it resulted in a 88-80 win over the Washington Wizards.
The Hawks came screaming out of the gate, building a 20-9 lead on the strength of four three-pointers in the first five minutes of game action. All told, Atlanta converted on 5 of 9 from three-point land in the first quarter, and that combined with 59% shooting overall led the team to an 11-point lead after 10 minutes.
From there, the Hawks were able to separate further, taking a 39-21 advantage after an explosion from Bryce Cotton in the second quarter. Cotton scored nine points in his first five minutes of court time, and Atlanta was cooking on all cylinders, including a highlight-reel blocked shot from Edy Tavares that led to an entertaining “finger wag” celebration.
The goodwill would evaporate to some degree, though, as the Wizards slashed the deficit to just 49-41 by the halftime break. Atlanta’s offense was lights-out in the first two quarters, shooting 56% from the floor and knocking down eight threes, but there were some defensive issues. Still, the duo of Kevin Pangos and Cotton led the way with nine points each, while DeAndre Bembry added seven points, four rebounds and three assists before halftime.
After the break, Atlanta’s offense sputtered considerably, scoring only 17 points in the third quarter while Washington clawed to within one point. Brandon Ashley was the bright spot, scoring seven points and flashing his athleticism, but the quarter was largely plagued by inefficiency and spotty defense.
Still, the Bryce Cotton experience would not be contained. The talented point guard scored seven points within the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to aid the Hawks in extending the lead, and Washington would never be able to fully recover. It should be noted that Atlanta closed the game with Pangos on the court ahead of Cotton, but the Hawks held on (thanks in large part to late-game heroics from Lamar Patterson) to improve to 2-0 on the week with the 88-80 victory.
Cotton led Atlanta’s scorers with 21 points on the day, including a 3-for-4 clip from three-point distance. Elsewhere, Patterson scored 16 points and dished out 6 assists, while Pangos added 12 points (on five shots), Ashley finished with 11 points and Bembry produced 7 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds on the day.
The Hawks will finish the round-robin play in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon, taking on the Brooklyn Nets at 4:30 pm ET. Stay tuned.