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Shorthanded Hawks unable to overturn poor first half in loss to Wizards

The Hawks came close but ultimately left themselves with too much to do

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks were unable to complete their comeback as they fell short to the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena, falling 131-114.

John Collins posted a career-high (again) 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Kent Bazemore enjoyed his best game for a while as he scored 22 points while posting six assists and snatching four steals.

For the Wizards (without John Wall, Dwight Howard and Jeff Green), Bradley Beal led with 36 points while Otto Porter Jr. added 20 points.

Poor first half leaves Hawks with too much to do

The first half went downhill in a hurry for the Hawks.

After an energetic start (particularly from John Collins and Dewayne Dedmon, who were flying around which was super fun to see), the Hawks weren’t able to sustain it as they fell behind the Wizards, largely thanks to Bradley Beal’s 11 points in the first period as he led the Wizards without John Wall.

It was more so in the second quarter where things got away in a hurry.

The Hawks entered the quarter down by just eight points but that deficit grew to 13 almost immediately and ballooned to 20 points, before it reached a game-high 25 points and the Hawks entered the half-time break trailing 23 points.

The Hawks put together a mammoth third quarter in which they scored 45 points to cut the lead down to nine and would cut the lead to five in the fourth quarter before the WIzards rallied with a 12-3 run to help put this one away for good.

It was an admirable effort from the Hawks to come back — the Wizards tried their best to give the Hawks a chance, especially to end that third quarter — but they ultimately fell short.

Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce praised his group’s fight but bemoaned their poor second quarter.

“Tough to say after the way that first half went,” opened Lloyd Pierce. “After seeing our guys in the second half, I thought that was probably the proudest moment I had this year- just them coming out and fighting and competing.

“We were so bad in the second quarter, and a lot of that had to do with not making shots, (and) a lot of it had to do with just not giving that third and fourth effort. I thought we were really bad (and) that we couldn’t get momentum. All three of our bigs- Alex (Len), John (Collins), Dewayne (Dedmon) had three fouls- we were scrambling with lineups and rotations and trying to keep something out there.

“Everything that could’ve gone wrong in the second quarter did. Coming out and responding the way we did, 45 points in the third quarter, and not really even the scoring, just the effort and the mentality. I thought our guys were really resilient tonight and they came out and fought. I’m really proud of those guys.”

Once the Hawks cut that lead to five, even heading into the final period, everything pointed towards the Hawks actually finishing the job but they ultimately left themselves with too much to do from that second quarter.

So, let’s take a little look at that second quarter, it was one Lloyd Pierce certainly wishes he could have back, I’m sure.

Offensively, the Hawks did not have a good time of things in the second quarter as they shot 7-of-21 (33%) from the field and 2-of-11 (18%) from three.

Pierce said that ‘a lot of it’ had to do with the Hawks not hitting shots, and they got plenty of good looks, here are some of those looks.

In the corner, Vince Carter (who hit three threes last night) got a good look in the corner but was unable to convert:

John Collins also got a good look at a three here, but was also unable to convert:

We won’t go through every three-pointer from the second quarter, but believe me when I say the Hawks had a ton of opportunities to score from outside, good opportunities too. Kevin Huerter had some good opportunities from the outside in particular.

On the run, Trae Young got a decent look at a floater that didn’t go in:

There were, as you’d imagine, some shots that were well defended, such as this Vince Carter three-point attempt:

“We just couldn’t make shots,” said guard Tyler Dorsey. “We were getting good looks, we just weren’t knocking them down. On the defensive end, they were getting easy shots, easy buckets. We weren’t getting back...”

Defensively, the Hawks weren’t awful but they did allow a number of easy buckets.

After a three from Kelly Oubre is missed, he’s easily able to grab his own rebound and easily able to puts home the floater:

The Hawks absolutely packing the paint helped Oubre gather this rebound and Trae Young looks as though he’s ready to go for the leak-out in transition once the Hawks gather the rebound.

John Collins, Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len all found themselves in foul trouble and this gave the Hawks problems. They had to go to a shorter lineup and this left them slightly vulnerable, Markieff Morris taking advantage here:

Bradley Beal scored 21 points in the first half and got into the paint a little too easily at times.

Here, one pick is enough for Beal to get right into the paint and score the underarm layup:

Coming off of a curl, Beal is able to receive the ball pretty much under the rim and it’s an easy bucket for Beal:

As mentioned, fouls for the Hawks’ bigs were a problem but also a problem in general as the Hawks committed 10 fouls in the period, leading to 15 free throw attempts for the Wizards, making 14 of those. That’s always a problem.

All of these things combined left the Hawks in a big hole they ultimately couldn’t climb out of. They tried, and credit to them for that because they got close but, sadly for the Hawks, no cigar on this one...

Another career-night for John Collins

After posting a new career-high of 24 points on Monday against the Warriors, John Collins did it again last night, registering a new career-high of 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three.

The two three-pointers was encouraging to see, it’s a shot that Collins’ hasn’t had a ton of success with so far this season.

Collins played a season-high 32 minutes, and he’s finally getting his feet underneath him.

“Yeah, I feel like it’s getting to where I want it to be,” Collins said on getting his wind back. “To be able to run up and down the court and not get gassed … play defense, rebound the ball well. So, I feel like the energy level is definitely going to be there.”

Similar to the Golden State game, Collins was able to feast around the rim, taking advantage of the lack of rim protection with Dwight Howard out:

Collins, like Dedmon, was extremely active in the early-going and this stood out to his coach.

“Just activity,” said Pierce when asked what he’s seen from Collins in recent games. “I look at the stat sheet again and today and it’s like ‘Oh, another career-high’. I don’t know what his rebound career-high (is) but it seems like it might be it as well, 26-14.

“I thought he was just OK. I didn’t think he was great I thought he was just OK which is good. It’s a good thing. There’s a lot that he can grow, a lot he can improve upon and there’s a lot of areas...he’s still only playing 31 minutes and I was hoping to get him 36 minutes tonight. I was really hoping to get him 36. But just trying to get him active and keep him active. He should’ve had six offensive rebounds instead of three. There’s a ton of room for him to grow with his activity alone.”

Pierce must have a very high standard if that was only an ‘OK’ game from Collins. And, to be fair, this isn’t a career-night unless he hits that three right at the end of the game after the Wizards ate the shot clock violation but regardless...

A good game from Collins again.

Jeremy Lin’s injury

Already minus Taurean Prince, Alex Poythress and Omari Spellman being a late scratch, the Hawks were dealt another injury blow when Jeremy Lin was ruled out during the game with a lower back strain — playing just under four minutes.

It’s unclear what Lin’s status will be going forward but with two off-days for the Hawks, I’d be surprised if he was ruled out of Saturday’s contest with the Denver Nuggets.

The Hawks (5-20) are off until Saturday where they continue their homestand with a contest against the No. 1 team in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets.

Should be fun.