Wizards Rally Late to Take 2-0 Series Lead
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 63 points to lead Washington to victory over Atlanta 109-101 during an NBA playoff game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 19th. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box file photoWASHINGTON, D.C. - After letting an early lead slip, the Wizards overcame poor shooting from the field and foul troubles to rally late and defeat the Hawks 109-101, in a game that averaged more than one foul per minute.
John Wall tied his career playoff-high with 32 points and added 9 assists and 5 rebounds. Bradley Beal finished with 31 points, including a lay-up that put the Wizards up for good with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
The Wizards fell behind early, before John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 14 straight points to put the Wizards ahead 16-6. From that point forward, the shots stopped falling, as the Wizards went scoreless from the field for over five minutes to end the quarter.
The Wizards went into halftime with an eight-point lead, before a dominant third quarter allowed the Hawks to take their largest lead of the game. Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. both picked up their fourth fouls early in the third and the Wizards entered the penalty with over eight minutes left in the quarter. The Hawks were able to take advantage, going 11-for-11 from the line and later in the quarter, using a 13-0 run to take a 74-67 lead.
The Hawks entered the fourth quarter with a 78-74 advantage, before Brandon Jennings provided a spark for the Wizards off the bench in the fourth quarter, hitting three straight step-back jumpers before finding Jason Smith for a ferocious dunk, eliciting loud cheers from the crowd, and timing tying the game at 84.
With the game tied, Wall and Beal took over scoring 22 of the Wizards final 25 points. Beal entered the quarter shooting 6-for-18 from the field, but found his stroke and finished the quarter with 16 points. The Wizards finished the game with their strongest quarter, shooting 66.7% from the field which holding the Hawks to 37.5% from the field.
“I felt like throughout the course of the game we weren’t playing great. We were missing a lot of shots,” said Beal. “Defensively, we were doing everything that we were supposed to do. Ultimately I think that’s what won us the game – that’s what kept us in the game, too.”
The Wizards took a 2-0 series lead with the victory and head to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4. Despite being up 2-0, the team is still keeping a game-by-game mentality. “We did our job, now we have to go on the road and try to get Game Three,” said Wall. “If we get Game Three, then you think about getting Game Four. We have to take it one game at a time.”
Marcin Gortat played a large role in the Wizards victory, contributing 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 5 blocks. Gortat far surpassed his average of 0.8 blocks per game and held Dwight Howard in check, limiting him to 6 points and 7 rebounds.
Wizards Coach Scott Brooks was impressed by Gortat’s performance stating, “He’s done a good job -- that’s what he’s done.” “He’s a big part of our team, and when he defends he helps us. He’s not known as a defender because he does so many good things offensively, but he knows how to play.”
“Refs, You Suck:”
The fans at Verizon Center did not seem pleased with the number of fouls called, which slowed the game flow. The loud boos started early in the first quarter, which had 16 combined fouls between the teams. Chants of “Refs, you suck,” started in the third quarter and continued through the second half of the game. In the third quarter, Taurean Prince tripped over Kelly Oubre Jr., who was already on the ground, eliciting loud boos from the crowd.
Hawks Forward Paul Millsap thought the game was officiated well saying, “I feel like they called the game as it was. There were fouls and I think they called it on both sides.” He continued, “It was a pretty balanced game. Very physical game. I mean they did a good job tonight.”
Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer added, “I think the officials did a good job tonight.”
Written by Hirdesh Matta