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Sluggish Hawks scuffle in lopsided loss to Wizards

Lackluster is an accurate descriptor.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A short-handed Atlanta Hawks team fell to 2-11 after a sluggish effort on Saturday night in the nation’s capitol, losing to the Wizards by a final score of 113-94. After battling back from a 16-point halftime deficit in Detroit on Friday night only to lose the game in the final minute, the Hawks lacked the energy and execution to stay with the Wizards (7-5) who are in the midst of a stretch playing six of seven games at home.

Again playing without Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Muscala, DeAndre Bembry and Miles Plumlee, the Hawks struggled on both ends of the floor allowing the Wizards to run away to an easy victory.

The Hawks were led by 19 points from Taurean Prince and 15 from Marco Belinelli. The Wizards needed limited minutes from their starters who typically log heavy minutes. Bradley Beal lead the way with 19 points while John Wall contributed 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Atlanta’s defense was solid early holding the Wizards to just 20 first-quarter points. After the Hawks started the period shooting 5 of 14 from the field, Belinelli scored the Hawks’ final seven points of the period to pull the Hawks within one as the Hawks trailed the Wizards 20-19 at the end of the quarter.

Tauran Prince intercepts a Bradley Beal pass, the first of 23 turnovers forced by the Hawks versus the Wizards on Saturday night.

The Hawks played the passing lanes very well early on their way to forcing 23 Wizard turnovers. But the Hawks committed seven first-quarter turnovers of their own further exacerbating poor first-quarter shooting.

Malcolm Delaney scores three of his 11 second quarter points, giving the Hawks a 34-28 lead versus the Wizards.

In the second period, Malcolm Delaney found his shooting stroke putting up 11 quick points pushing the Hawks out to a 37-30 lead mid way through the quarter. But the Wizards’ first unit finished the half on a 19-5 run to give the Wizards a 49-42 halftime lead.

Markieff Morris gives the Wizards a 49-42 lead heading into the half.

In the second half, the offense continued to sputter as turnovers and inconsistent shooting plagued the Hawks. After pulling within five points on a Belinelli three-point shot with 5:34 to play in the third quarter, the road team’s fatigue and frustration got the best of them as the Wizards opened up a double-digit lead after a technical foul on Taurean Prince which resulted in four-point swing for the Wizards.

The pivotal play in the game occurred with 3:04 to go in the third quarter with the Hawks trailing 68-61. Prince felt he was fouled by Mike Scott on a blocked breakaway layup attempt. Instead of getting back to play defense, Prince argued with officials resulting in a wide-open three point shot by Otto Porter Jr. on the other end, followed by a technical foul free throw for the Wizards. The four point swing increased the Wizards lead to 72-61 after which the Wizards never looked back.

Otto Porter Jr. makes a wide open three as the Hawks play four-on-five with Taurean Prince failing to get back on defense.

The Wizards, playing primarily with their bench players to open the fourth quarter, put together an 18-2 run to push the lead to 94-69 with 7:38 to play. The Hawks never came closer than 16 as the Wizards put the game away easily going on to win 113-94.

Shooting Struggles?

Shooting 14 of 33 (42.4 percent) from behind the arc while your opponent shoots 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) normally results in more than 93 points scored and typically leads to a good result on the scoreboard as well. While the Hawks outscored the Wizards by 21 points at the three point line, they still manage to get routed as the Wizards outscored the Hawks by 30 points inside the arc and by 10 points at the free throw line.

Belinelli, Delaney and Prince combined to shoot 11 of 17 on three point attempts. But fatigue in addition to solid interior defense by the Wizards seemed to beset the shooting of Schroder (2 of 16), Luke Babbitt (2 of 8) and Isaiah Taylor (2 of 8) — all three of whom have been contributing well on the offensive end of late.

Turnovers and Points Off Turnovers

Both teams committed far too many turnovers. The Wizards, who normally take very good care of the basketball, committed 23 turnovers while the Hawks committed 24. The Hawks failed to capitalize on the Wizards miscues converting those turnovers into just 17 points while the Wizards translated the Hawks’ turnovers into 36 points — a 19-point edge which happens to final margin of victory.

The Wizards convert a Hawks’ turnover into an easy score as Ian Mahinmi gets the dunk.

Forgettable Game for John Collins

It is inevitable that a rookie will eventually hit that game they would just like to forget. This was the first of hopefully very few of these games for John Collins.

After playing 28 physical minutes in Detroit on Friday night, mostly facing Pistons’ center Andre Drummond, Collins lacked the energy on Saturday night that is normally the trademark of his play. The typically productive Collins posted just two points and three rebounds in 22 minutes.

Collins’ strengths of creating second chance opportunities on the offensive glass and working his way to the free throw line were nowhere to be found as he recorded just one offensive rebound and did not attempt a free throw. He struggled on the defensive end as well with his execution in defending the pick-and-roll while picking up five fouls on the night.

Markieff Morris beats John Collins on a reverse layup. Collins tries to give help on the pick-and-roll but never stops the ball from coming to the paint and is also unable to defend the passing lane or recover to prevent Morris from scoring.

The NBA schedule, including tough back-to-back road match-ups can be challenging for young NBA rookies. The 20-year-old Collins who often is matched up against bigger, stronger players will likely take some time to adapt to the physical demands of an NBA big.

Taurean’s Miscue

Coach Mike Budenholzer was visibly upset with Prince when he failed to get back on defense as a result of his frustration with not getting the foul call on a layup attempt that was blocked by former Hawk Mike Scott. Prince was immediately benched though he did return to action later in the game.

Budenholzer addressed the play which resulted in a four-point swing for the Wizards as well as Prince’s effort when he returned to the game. Budenholzer appreciated the way Prince got back to his work and intensity in the fourth quarter but acknowledged that Prince needs to maintain that style of play for all four quarters.

(h/t Fox Sports Southeast)

“We’ve got to do a better job of keeping our emotions, and everything, our frustrations in check,” Budenholzer said. “But the way he played down the stretch was a positive, but we need more of that from the beginning to the end.”

Tyler Cavanugh gets on the board

Hawks’ rookie Tyler Cavanuagh scored his first NBA points with a corner three during the fourth quarter . Cavanaugh, who is playing on a two-way contract, is providing depth while Ersan Ilyasova, Mike Muscala and Miles Plumlee each work their way back from injury.

Hawks’ rookie Tyler Cavanaugh scores his first NBA points.

Looking Ahead

Though the Hawks are now tied for the NBA’s worst record at 2-11, they have been playing better of late with a win over Cleveland and competitive losses versus Boston and Detroit. Saturday night’s effort versus the Wizards was a setback. The Hawks will look to get back on track Monday night in New Orleans as they face the Pelicans who have won four of their last five games.