The Atlanta Hawks won their second-to-last road game of the season as they rallied late on to knock off the Washington Wizards 103-97 in the nation’s capital on Friday night.
Taurean Prince — who was big down the stretch — led the Hawks with 23 points while Tyler Dorsey added a career-high 22 points.
For the Wizards, who were without John Wall, Bradley Beal stepped up with 32 points but was only one of three Wizards to crack double-digits. Kelly Oubre Jr. was one of those three players — and the next highest — adding 13 points.
Washington’s utter collapse down the stretch
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Hawks were holding onto a four point lead. The Wizards — who had not played well — finally began to click somewhat and not only retook the lead but established a good looking advantage, Bradley Beal’s free throws on a three-point shot attempt extending the Wizards’ lead to six points.
At this point you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that the Hawks probably wouldn’t be coming back to win this game now that the Wizards finally got going.
But no, in fact, that was as good as it got for Washington as the Hawks reeled off a 12-0 run to take the lead and hung on for the win as the Wizards absolutely collapsed down the stretch.
Let’s look at how the Hawks wrestled this one away from the Wizards.
Tyler Dorsey got the comeback started as he converted this three-pointer near the end of the shot clock:
This was arguably one of the biggest shots of the night from Dorsey, reducing the gap form six points to three points.
Next for the Hawks, Taurean Prince gets to the free throw line with this aggressive move going to the rim:
Beal attempts to respond but drives into a crowd and his shot attempt is no good:
Good defense from Mike Muscala, who actually got this block on Beal a few possessions earlier:
Mike Muscala was on hand again to strike on the next trip down, after Damion Lee cuts, receives a pass from Dewayne Dedmon and makes the pass to the corner to Muscala for the three for the lead:
Great cut by Lee and nice awareness to see the pass to the corner to Muscala for the lead, a lead the Hawks would not relinquish.
After a timeout, the Wiz try again but Beal commits the turnover out of the timeout as he fires a pass back to no one, sailing out of bounds:
At this stage, the collapse is truly on, and the Hawks extend the lead to four after Dedmon finds the cutting Prince, who does a great job adding a dab of brakes which takes Oubre out of the picture and Prince uses the glass for the layup:
With things now beginning to get dire for the Wizards, Bradley Beal gets to the rim using the Marcin Gortat screen but his reverse layup slips off of the rim:
This was the miss that you began to think ‘Yep, Hawks are winning this one’ and that was only compounded as Prince drives in on Gortat, stops, spins, fades and hits the jumper:
Tomas Satoransky cut the lead to four with a layup but Hawks dashed any comeback hopes as Prince finds Dedmon for the dunk with a beautiful dish:
And that pretty much did it: an incredible meltdown from the Wizards, a playoff team, but the Hawks did well to rally on the road and emerge with a win, especially having been down by six points and this response is what Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer was most pleased with.
“Good win on the road,” opened Budenholzer postgame. “Especially (after) they go up six or seven after we’d been up 10, to respond to that… When you lose a lead in the fourth quarter and you’re on the road, it’s not easy… For us then to turn it around and go on our own run to finish the game. Taurean with a great pass late, a lot of plays, defensive guys, a lot of pressure on Beal late. Just happy for the guys with they way they’ve worked, the way they’ve continued to play. Proud of them.”
The mood in the Wizards’ locker room was quite different, with Wizards head coach Scott Brooks very unhappy with his team.
“Selfish basketball is no fun to coach, it’s no fun to play with, and it’s no fun to watch,” Brooks said via Candace Buckner of the Washington Post “and we’re a selfish basketball team right now.”
“It’s not a divided team. It’s a together team, but if we’re going to talk about doing things, we’ve got to do it with our actions,” added Brooks. “We got to guard somebody. Our perimeter defense is porous. It’s embarrassing we get beat backdoors after backdoors…”
Brooks said that losing to Atlanta was not embarrassing but rather his team’s passion was embarrasssing.
“To me, it’s not an embarrassing loss to lose to Atlanta with their guys out,” said Brooks. “It’s embarrassing that we don’t play with the passion that we need to play at.”
Hard to tell what the Wizards wanted from this game. There’s an obvious push by the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Wizards to fall/rise up into the 7-seed in order to face a banged up Boston Celtics in round one of the playoffs and the Hawks may have been caught up in it with the Wizards, perhaps, wanting to lose this game in order to obtain that coveted 7-seed.
Perhaps that would explain why Markieff Morris was, seemingly, very keen to be tossed in the first quarter after picking up two technical fouls in quick succession…
It would honestly help explain the poor play of the Wizards on this night, the second night of a back-to-back having (conveniently?) blown a 17 point fourth quarter lead against the Cavs. Or, perhaps this is just who the Wizards are.
Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that the Wizards collapsed in this game and that the Hawks deserved this win: they were much better than the Wizards last night.
Tyler Dorsey’s career night
Tyler Dorsey has enjoyed a good spell of late and that continued last night as Dorsey registered a new career-high of 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 from three:
After a slow first quarter, Dorsey scored nine points in the second quarter and another eight in the third to set him on his way to a new career-high.
We looked at it when looking at the Wizards’ collapse but this three from Dorsey in the fourth quarter I think had a huge bearing on the outcome of this game:
This was the three that began the comeback that would eventually win the Hawks the game. Instead of possibly being down by eight or nine points if this resulted in a miss and the Wizards score on the other end. Instead, the gap is just three points and the rest is history…
Dorsey also had some decent defensive moments too, including this defense of Bradley Beal in the first quarter:
Nice job moving his feet, absorbing the contact and contesting the shot, resulting in a miss by Beal.
Coach Budenholzer was happy for Dorsey and what he’s doing with the opportunities he has been given.
“Tyler is a rookie and has grown with his opportunities,” said Budenholzer of Dorsey. “(He’s) Doing more and more, making big shots, improving on the defensive end. Very good for him.”
Over his last 10 games, Dorsey has averaged 13.6 points on 42% shooting from the field and 42% from three-point range — a good end to his season
Last night marked the Hawks’ final game against the Southeast Division.
The Hawks actually split the season series with the Wizards (2-2) but finish with a 5-11 record against the Southeast Division. The Hawks suffered a series-sweep against the Charlotte Hornets, split the series 2-2 against the Orlando Magic and lost 1-3 against the Miami Heat.
Not the best year for the Southeast Division, just two playoff bound teams (and both in the lower half of the playoff seeding) and three teams in the lottery (deep lottery in the cases of the Hawks and Magic).
The Hawks will have one more battle against the Southeast Division: the ping-pong battle in the draft lottery against the Orlando Magic in May…
Until then (and next season for the rest), Southeast Division…
The Hawks (23-57) are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they’ll take on a depleted Boston Celtics at the TD Garden.