The Atlanta Hawks came into tonight having won 18 of last 19 games with the Washington Wizards but left with a rare loss to a score of 93-83.
John Wall made his season debut and may have given the Washington Wizards a significant emotional boost. Wall even hit a three pointer. This is noteworthy because he has never been a capable jump shooter. For reference, Wall had three made three pointers the entire 2011-12 NBA season. His counterpart, Jeff Teague, desperately tried to shake recent slump. He was aggressive from horn to horn, getting to the free throw line 7 times and finishing with 19 points on 10 shots, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.
Josh Smith and Ivan Johnson had a hard time finding the rim, going a collective 4-19 from the field. Al Horford had a quiet double-double and Korver hardly made an impact. Devin Harris made three awkward shots, a bailout three and two And-1’s. DeShawn Stevenson had his first playing time of back-to-back, and promptly received boos upon shooting a three at end of half.
After owning a 1 point lead at halftime, Wizards came out in the third quarter on a mission, 6-0 run causing Larry Drew to call a quick timeout. However, the Hawks were unable to respond for the rest of the game and the wheels to the Hawks offense fell off in the second half. Previously it took a half for Atlanta to warmup before making an inspired run in the second half but not so tonight. The Hawks were pounded inside by the Wizards all night long and lost the points in the paint battle 46-22. In addition, they were outrebounded 51-38.
I hate to use the word “panic”, but after losing 6 of the past 8, including four to teams currently in the bottom half of their respective conferences and all 6 currently with worse record than the Hawks, the time to panic is rapidly approaching. Thankfully, in the Eastern Conference, it would take a very prolonged slide to fall out of postseason positioning The Hawks have also endured a pair of 4 games in 5 nights sets and the schedule looks to be more favorable in the days ahead. With such weak competition in the conference, the chance to break through a second round ceiling is available. All we can hope for is a much more consistent offense output as the heaped together roster continues to mesh with each other.