The Reaction: Wizards Let A Win Fly Away, Again – Washington 92, Atlanta 95
With coverage of the Washington Wizards’ 95-92 loss to the Atlanta Hawks from the Verizon Center on Saturday night, Kyle Weidie and John Converse Townsend provide their reaction…
First, a good moment…
By halftime, Atlanta’s Joe Johnson had attempted just five shots, making two of them; he had four total points and his Hawks were down 52-41. Johnson didn’t do much in the third, either. He scored a transition 3-pointer 24 seconds into the second half thanks to Jeff Teague quickness and creation. Otherwise, Johnson missed his other two third quarter attempts. Chris Singleton was making up for a lack of lateral quickness with physicality, making it especially tough when Johnson tried to post him. Atlanta’s leading scorer entered the final period with seven points on 3-for-8 shooting, and he hadn’t attempted one free throw either. Johnson checked back into the game for Willie Green with 5:41 left in the night, his Hawks down 87-83. At the 4:16 mark, he easily got into the paint against Singleton for a running jumper. Was he heating up? Was it a sign that the Wizards needed to double? Not a minute later, Johnson gave Singleton a slow, deliberate jab step from 19 feet away on the left wing. Singleton gave him just enough space and didn’t close the gap. “It’s over,” I turned and said to TAI cohort John Converse Townsend; Johnson then nailed the jumper. It was merely elementary when Johnson hit a 3-pointer against scrambling Wizards defense to put the Hawks up 93-92 with 46 seconds left, he already found the glimmer of rhythm he needed to get going.
-John Converse Townsend
Nene was the rare MVP in a losing effort, recording his 80th career double-double. The Brazilian big man set the tone early, finishing two and-1s in the opening quarter, on his way to 14 points and eight rebounds and an 11-point lead at the half. Nene finished the game 21 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
-John Converse Townsend
John Wall was held in check by a stingy Atlanta Hawks defense that was committed to slowing Washington’s transition offense. Wall made his only basket of the game just before halftime, having cut into the paint for a easy layup, courtesy of a perfectly timed pass from Nene. He finished the game with eight points on 1-for-10 shooting, two rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two turnovers. Wall also missed a potential tying 3-pointer as the clock expired. The Game Changer is now 2-for-27 from 3-point range this season.
-John Converse Townsend
Rookie Chris Singleton was a real handcuff for the first three quarters against Joe Johnson, but in the clutch, the six-time All-Star broke loose. Johnson scored nine points on just four shots in the final 4:16, including a 3-pointer that gave the Hawks their first lead since the first quarter at 93-92. Moments later, Johnson found himself at the free throw line where he swished home two, increasing Atlanta’s lead to three points with just 12 seconds to play. He finished the night with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, 2-for-4 from 3-point range, with five rebounds and three assists. Were his big moments by design? I asked Hawks Head Coach Larry Drew if the gameplan was to attack Wizards rookie Chris Singleton down the stretch. “There was no plan to attack him,” said Drew. “We had a couple plays designed just to get an execution out of it.” Josh Smith, when asked the same question, replied:
“He’s an All-Star. He’s an All-Star. We’re going to give him the ball down the stretch, and he produces nine times out of 10.”
That was….. tough, but…
It was tough for the Wizards to lose, again, blowing a lead on their home court against a quality playoff squad. They came out hitting hard with aggressive offensive rebounds against a sluggish Hawks team (Booker and Nene tallied three offensive boards each in the game’s first 4.5 minutes). But in the end, Washington had less offensive weapons (5-for-17 on FGs as team in the fourth quarter), and furthermore, that was compounded by poor decisions making by the offensive weapons they have (see: bad shots by Crawford and Wall down the stretch). Still, not one person around this franchise, watching or participating, doesn’t feel this team has made measurable progress since the trade. Lessons will pay off in wins eventually, but also, for the future, the Wizards don’t want to win too many contests over the last 20 of this lockout-shortened season. After all, there are the usual draft lottery concerns to think about in the District. I’ll let Randy Wittman take the ending away…
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