By Adesina O. Koiki
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Once again, the Atlanta Hawks went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and, once again, they took the best blows early on to be more than competitive during the later stages of the game.
But once more, Atlanta came up short, as the Hawks couldn’t overcome a cold shooting night from star guard Dennis Schröder and the stellar play of the Wizards bench in the fourth quarter as Atlanta fell 113-94 against Washington. For the Hawks, it’s their third straight loss and 11th defeat in their last 12 games.
Like their close loss to Central Division-leading Detroit last night and their three-point defeat at home to Atlantic Division-leading Boston last Monday, the Hawks were impressive in large chunks against an Eastern Conference contender, holding Washington’s lethal transition offense to just seven fast-break points in the first half while, at one point, building a seven-point lead in the second quarter at 37-30. Washington ended the quarter on a 19-5 run to take a 49-42 lead into halftime.
The Wizards extended the lead to nine at the end of the third quarter, then blew the game open in the fourth quarter as they build a lead as much as 25 points. All of Washington’s 37 fourth-quarter points came from its bench.
“Credit to Washington, they played well,” said Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer. “Their bench had a good game or good night for them. For about a quarter and a half, it felt like we were doing well. I think we were up 37-30 and couldn’t get rebounds. They hit a couple of threes, an and-one and the game kind of changed in that last five or six minutes of the second quarter.”
“Again, I think we can play much better than we did tonight.”
Playing better starts with Schröder, who came into game scoring in double figures in every game this season; He was held to just seven points on 2-of-16 shooting, as the hounding defense of Wizards point guard John Wall and forward Kelly Oubre Jr. did not allow the German to do much damage on drives to the basket.
“I’m sure it was a little bit of both [Wizards’ defense and an off-shooting night],” said Budenholzer. “He had some good looks that he’s been hitting a high percentage this year. I’m sure their defense was good and active. Wall’s a good defender. [Marcin] Gortat’s a big that play’s pick-and-roll defense well. We’ll look at the tape, and usually you find it’s a little bit of good defense and sometimes you missed a couple of good looks that you need to have go down.”
Forward Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 19 points, hitting four of his six three-point attempts in the game. Coming off the bench, guard Marco Belinelli also hit four three-pointers, scoring 15 points overall.
The Hawks end their-three-game road trip on Monday when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans.