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Young, Hawks cruise to 116-100 road win over Wizards

Atlanta Hawks v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Following a mid-week split against the L.A. Clippers and Brooklyn Nets, the Atlanta Hawks visited the Washington Wizards on Friday evening. In the first match-up between the division foes this season, the Hawks emerged with a comfortable victory by a final score of 116-100 in the nation’s capital.

Atlanta opened the night with a 7-2 lead, as the Wizards missed their first six shot attempts. However, neither team really had it going from a shooting standpoint, as Atlanta shot just 4-of-18 from the floor and 1-of-7 from three-point range at the outset. The Hawks led for the lion’s share of the opening period, based largely on defense and free throw creation, and the visitors used a 15-5 run to close the first quarter with a 31-22 lead.

Danilo Gallinari was a key part of the late-quarter surge, scoring nine points in the first period.

Veteran guard Rajon Rondo helped the Hawks start the second quarter on a high note, scoring eight points (on three shots) and helping to key a 7-0 run to put Atlanta up by ten points.

In addition to Rondo’s mini-barrage as a scorer, he orchestrated a dunk from De’Andre Hunter seconds later.

Atlanta led by as many as 13 points in the first half, settling in with a 61-50 lead at the break after Cam Reddish converted a buzzer-beating three-pointer. The Hawks didn’t light the world on fire offensively, shooting 44 percent from the floor, but they committed only six turnovers, made 14 free throws, and played strong defense against the Wizards.

While the first half was generally positive, the Hawks did have some unfortunate news heading halftime. Hunter was off the floor for the final 6:24 of the second quarter and, just after the second quarter ended, the Hawks announced that he would miss the remainder of the game with what the team called “right knee discomfort.” No further update is available, but Atlanta will certainly keep a close eye on the second-year forward, who is enjoying a breakout season in 2020-21.

The start of the second half leaned Atlanta’s way, with the Hawks quickly pushing the advantage to 17 points before the first timeout, in part due to a long-distance connection from Trae Young.

Atlanta pushed the lead to as many as 23 points in the third quarter, visibly frustrating the Wizards throughout the period. Washington did climb back within 18 at the end of the quarter, though, meaning that the Hawks couldn’t let off the gas as the closing period arrived.

The Wizards actually kept clawing back into the game, slashing the margin down to 15 in the first few minutes, but Russell Westbrook wasn’t around to see it. The veteran guard was ejected and Rondo waved goodbye to him as a result.

Atlanta had another mini-run coming, with Young finding John Collins for a lob dunk before Young himself scored six straight points.

In theory, Atlanta’s 21-point edge should have been enough to cruise to the finish, but Washington had other ideas. The Wizards scored the next 11 points in a row, making things far more interesting than they needed to be.

Along the way, Rondo was ejected (while on the bench) and Washington had the momentum. On cue, though, Young put the game away in scoring Atlanta’s next ten points, stretching the advantage back to 16.

Young was the story of the night for the Hawks, scoring 41 points on 10-of-18 from the floor, 5-of-9 from three-point range and 16-of-17 from the free throw line. He was also brilliant in the fourth quarter, taking over when needed, and Young finished with 28 points after halftime. Elsewhere, Collins scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Capela posting a 13-point, 14-rebound double-double with three blocked shots.

The Hawks will return to Atlanta and recharge over the weekend before returning to action on Monday against the Los Angeles Lakers at State Farm Arena.

Stay tuned.