Washington 108, Atlanta 101, Game 17 of 82
This Washington team is showing resilience. In a fast-paced game that saw each Wizards’ starter log over 35 minutes in the back half of yet another back-to-back, Washington outlasted Atlanta on Saturday night.
Washington (8-9) got Nene back in the lineup, playing through a sore right calf/Achilles tendon. A balanced Washington attack saw each starter take between 10 and 18 field goal attempts. John Wall led the way with 26 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. Atlanta (9-9) fell behind by 18 in the third quarter, but Paul Millsap led a comeback that got the Hawks within three. Washington made enough plays down the stretch to hold on for the win.
After a Millsap jumper that gave the Hawks an early 4-3 lead in the first quarter, Marcin Gortat followed with a fade away jump shot of his own to give Washington a 5-4 lead, a lead the Wizards would maintain the rest of the game. Trevor Ariza’s seven points and Wall’s four assists set the pace for Washington, who led 28-20 at the first quarter buzzer.
The second quarter opened with Elton Brand scoring five points in the first 2:16, and DeMarre Carroll adding a three-pointer to get Atlanta back to a two-point deficit (30-28, Washington). Wall contributed a couple of layups and a three-pointer to keep the Wizards out in front. With the starters on the floor to finish the half, Washington increased the lead to 10 (54-44) at halftime. Three Washington players scored in double figures in the first half – Wall with 14, Martell Webster with 12 and Trevor Ariza added 10. Carroll, Jeff Teague and Cartier Martin had 7 each for Atlanta in the first half.
The third quarter saw the beginning of Atlanta’s comeback. Washington started the period well, hitting five of their first six shots. The Wizards’ lead increased to 66-48 with 8:12 remaining. Maybe Washington’s starters were starting to feel fatigued, or maybe Atlanta increased focus. As Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman tried to rest some starters, Atlanta went on a 20-8 run, capped off by a Millsap three. Washington was able to hold a lead, up 79-70 by the end of the period.
In the final quarter, Atlanta kept up the pressure. Yet another Millsap three cut the lead to 81-79 (Washington), with 9:42 left in regulation. Washington went back to its starting five with 7:55 remaining, and traded baskets with the visiting Hawks. With 1:46 remaining and Washington up 97-92, Hawks’ guard Shelvin Mack fouled a three-point-shooting Ariza. Ariza subsequently hit all three free throws to put the Wizards up 100-92. Washington made 8 of 10 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
Washington shot 48.7% from the field, and tallied 38 rebounds, 24 assists on 38 baskets, 12 steals, 16 turnovers and 5 blocked shots. In addition to Wall’s total, the other four starters were all in double figures. Ariza had 24, Martell Webster added 19, and Nene chipped in with 13 and 12 rebounds.
Atlanta shot 44.4% from the floor, and totaled 40 rebounds, 19 assists on 36 baskets, 7 steals, 16 turnovers and 6 blocked shots. Millsap had 23 points and 10 rebounds. Al Horford had 16 points, and Jeff Teague added 15 points and 5 assists.
Next up for Washington is a youthful Orlando team (Monday, 2 December), followed by Milwaukee (Friday, 6 December) and Denver (Monday, 9 December). Orlando (6-10) is coming off an 18-point loss at San Antonio, and would love to steal a road win in Washington.
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