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Hawks turn in lifeless effort in loss to Wizards

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Atlanta fell behind early and never recovered in an embarrassing home loss to the Wizards.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The streaking Washington Wizards grabbed an early lead and never looked back in a 112-86 whitewashing of the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta missed out on opportunity to keep pace with the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference and lost for the third time in its last six outings.

“Not a lot to say,” Mike Budenholzer said after the game. “They beat us in every facet of the game. They’ve been playing well and we didn’t do anything to change that tonight. So a lot of credit to Washington. We’ll just look a tthe film and decide what to do with it.”

The Wizards, who have won 10 of their last 12 games to move within a half game of Atlanta, were the story in this one from start to finish. They led 37-25 at the end of the first. Tacked on 30 more points in the second while pushing the lead to as many as 25 and the rout was on from there leaving the Hawks searching for answers.

“Thirty-seven points,” Budenholzer said sounding rather astonished. “I think that’s poor defense. I would add too. I think somebody shooting it well should be at maybe 25, 28, 30 points. But a 37-point quarter out of the gate is just too much. So I think they did shoot it well and weren’t aggressive enough, and we weren’t there, and there was no presence defensively.”

Atlanta has been plagued by slow starts from time to time this season and Friday was no different. The Hawks shot 38 percent from the field for the quarter and turned it over just twice but allowed Washington to shoot 56 percent from the field including 5 of 9 from three-point range.

“They scored a lot of points, especially in the first quarter,” Paul Millsap said of the loss. “Our starters have to do better getting off to good starts and setting the tone for the rest of the game.”

A couple of his teammates echoed that sentiment.

“Everybody saw it. They were the more aggressive team coming out from the get go,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “They did a great job of executing their offense, executing their defensive schemes. We just have to be better. We have to be a whole lot better.”

“We can’t come out like that,” Dennis Schröder added. “We just have to be better. It starts with me. I have to set the tone. I’ll take that one.”

Kent Bazemore led Atlanta with 15 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Dwight Howard and Hardaway added 12 each. Mike Scott turned in a rare good offensive performance in garbage time to finish with 11. Millsap finished with just four points and four rebounds in 23 minutes.

Washington owned the paint outscoring the Hawks 40-30 while bullying their way to a 52-41 rebounding advantage.

Otto Porter led the Wizards with 21 points while John Wall added 19 points and nine assists. Bradley Beal, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat all finished with 15 points each.

“They’re good. I think Wall creates a lot of offense for his teammates too,” Budenholzer answered when asked about the challenges of defending Wall and Beal. “Wall is shooting it better but it feels like Otto Porter is a big part of what they’re doing when he’s spreading the court and making three’s. I think Beal and Wall deserve a lot of the credit, but I think Otto Porter, the way he’s shooting the three, is a big part of their success recently.”

Since winning 9 of 10, Atlanta has gone just 3-3 over the last six games and were a Chicago implosion away from being 2-4 over that stretch. They are allowing 107.5 points per 100 possessions over that stretch. The Hawks haven’t beaten a team with a record currently .500 or better since January 1 when they knocked off the Spurs.

“We just came out lackadaisical,” Millsap added. “We didn’t give them any resistance. They could go where they wanted to go, shoot whenever they wanted to shoot. I think it’s more on us. We have to focus on ourselves and figure it out.”