On the second night of a back-to-back, the Atlanta Hawks looked to be facing an uphill battle agains the Washington Wizards on Saturday evening but, before tip-off, optimism appeared in the form of All-Star point guard John Wall missing the game with injury. However, the Hawks trailed for the duration of the evening and, in the end, the Wizards emerged with a 129-104 victory that sent the home team to its third consecutive defeat.
From the opening tip, the Wizards were in control, beginning with a 9-3 stretch and quickly following that with an 11-2 run to take a 24-14 lead. Atlanta’s offense scuffled in the opening minutes but, in truth, it was defensive issues that plagued the Hawks throughout the first half and that trend began early.
The Hawks dug a 27-18 hole after 12 minutes and that margin widened in the second when the Wizards kicked the period off with another 11-2 spurt. That provided the visitors with an 18-point lead and, while Atlanta managed to climb back within 12 later in the second quarter, the damage was largely done.
At the break, the Hawks were sporting a 37 percent shooting clip (to go along with 24 percent from three) but, more importantly, the Wizards posted a 137 offensive rating that included 50 percent shooting and 59 percent from long range. That was induced by faulty perimeter defense from Atlanta and the end result was a 61-45 deficit.
The Hawks came out of the second half gates in encouraging fashion, slashing the gap to 12 points but that positive momentum was short-lived. The Wizards unleashed a 14-2 run to take a 77-53 lead and, even with plenty of (theoretical) time to climb back into the game, that was effectively the end of the threat.
Washington led by 21 at the start of the fourth quarter and, while the Hawks got it to 14 at one point, the final result was never in doubt. For the second straight home game, there was plenty of garbage time and the final 25-point margin was sealed.
After a day off on Sunday, the Hawks will be back in action at Philips Arena on Monday evening, as the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town for their annual visit. Stay tuned.