Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Hawks 122 — Dennis Schröder with the Roughneck Business | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 101 vs Hawks 122 — Dennis Schröder with the Roughneck Business

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Updated: March 24, 2016

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards vs Hawks, Regular Season Game 71, March 23, 2016, by Rashad Mobley (@rashad20).

To adjust or not to adjust? That was the question heading into Wednesday night’s Wizards vs. Hawks matchup.

Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer did not exactly come out and tell the press that his team just missed open shots against the Wizards on Monday night before the game. Nor did he say that Bradley Beal and John Wall had played nearly flawless basketball.

However, Budenholzer seemed supremely confident that his team would bounce back sans any major adjustments. When asked what his team needed to do better against the Wizards in their second game in three days, Budenholzer said, “We’ve got to make it more difficult on both Wall and Beal. I think in general they both played really well, they shot well. I think it goes through them first and I think we need to be better.”

The first nine and a half minutes of the first quarter were like an extension of the fourth quarter of Monday’s nights game between these two teams. John Wall hit a 3-pointer and navigated his way around Hawks perimeter players. And while Beal took (and missed) just one shot in that span, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter more than picked up the slack with 18 points among them.

Defensively, the Wizards continued to fight under the screens of Atlanta’s big men, and that, combined with the uninspired play of Jeff Teague, helped the home team jump out to a 25-15 lead. Kyle Korver hit consecutive 3-pointers in a 40-second span, which represented two more than he hit in 19 minutes against the Wizards earlier in the week, but the Hawks as a team could not seem to get untracked, despite taking uncontested shots. Then, at the 3:16 mark of the first quarter, both Garrett Temple and Dennis Schröder entered: a shift in the balance of power.

As my colleague Kyle Weidie mentioned in the D.C. Council, Schröder shredded Washington’s defense, making the Wizards pay for dipping under the screens. And Temple simply could not guard him. Temple picked up two quick fouls and found himself right back on the bench, but not before Schröder engineered a 7-0 run to cut the Wizards’ lead to 25-22. Two fouls from Morris drained a bit of power from the Wizards’ offense, too.

Heading into the second quarter, the Hawks just had to keep making shots, but the Wizards needed to adjust. They made the wrong type of adjustment, as Schröder, now guarded by Ramon Sessions, continued to open up the Hawks offense. His aggressiveness, combined with the picks of Mike Scott and Al Horford, forced the Wizards to switch on pick-and-roll defense, which led to mismatched and easy baskets for the Hawks.

When asked about the difference in pick-and-roll philosophy, John Wall had this to say after the game:

“A lot of pick and roll coverages we tried to do the same as [Monday], but at times we didn’t do it and they hurt us when their big men just started rolling down the paint and our guys had to help. So, we gave up layups and Korver was open and Horford was open and Scott made some shots for them.”

Eventually Gortat, Wall and Morris re-entered the game, and Schroder went to the bench. That slight juxtaposition, along with some late second-quarter heroics from Jared Dudley and Marcus Thornton, allowed the Wizards to take back the lead going into halftime, 56-52. But there were clear, tell-tale signs that this version of the Atlanta Hawks team was not going to fade away as they had earlier in the week.

The Hawks shot 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3 in the second quarter. The Wizards weren’t slouching either, shooting 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from the 3-point line.

In the beginning of the third quarter, the Wizards began to show signs of slippage. Wall was less aggressive with his attempts to break down the Hawks defense and began to turn the ball over; Beal looks as passive as Jeff Teague had been in the first quarter; and it was only the offensive efforts of Gortat, Porter and Morris that kept the Wizards afloat. But unlike the first half when the Wizards strong play gave them a 10-point cushion (prior to Schröder checking into the game), the Wizards led by just three when the ‘Shredder’ entered the game with 4:16 left.

Schröder drove by John Wall and Garrett Temple with ease, got his baskets (8 points) and spread the floor so that Paul Milsap and Tim Hardaway Jr. (4 points) could occasionally get theirs, too. Late in the third quarter, Morris, Gortat and Porter had lost their offensive mojo, Wall and Beal were non-factors, and the Wizards as a team finished the period shooting just 33 percent from the field (and from the 3-point line).

By the time the fourth quarter started, all of the subtle changes made between Monday’s game and Wednesday’s tipoff became more pronounced. The Hawks adjusted to allow Schröder’s disruptive nature spark to their offense—and it did not hurt that they made the open shots that were missed in the last game. The Wizards, meanwhile, did not have heroic performances from Beal and Wall this time around. And they abandoned their previous pick-and-roll defense and reverted back to what Wall had previously called “some sh*t.” All of that, combined with Coach Wittman’s lack of an effective Plan B, led to disaster.

The Hawks opened the final frame on an 11-0 run, which had Schröder stamp all over it. Korver hit two 3-pointers, Horford hit a 3-pointer of his own, and Mike Scott had a wide-open dunk in the paint. Marcus Thornton did his best to keep the Wizards in the game with 14 points (mostly of the garbage-time variety) but it was not to be. The Hawks won easy, 122-101.

While Chicago could not take advantage of the Wizards’ loss, because they were too busy losing a winnable game to the New York Knicks and the Porzingod, the 8th place Detroit Pistons defeated the Orlando Magic by 16 points to extend their lead over the 10-seed Wizards to 2.5 games.

At one point after the game, Marcus Thornton asked the Wizards PR staff how the Pistons and Bulls were doing. When he got the bad news, he smacked the nearest wall and quietly uttered, “Damn.” The faces of Coach Wittman and the rest of Thornton’s teammates told that same story in fewer words.

The Wizards missed an opportunity to pull closer to Chicago and stay even with Detroit, they missed an opportunity to get their first six-game win streak of the season, and, with 11 games left, their margin for error got significantly smaller.

The culprits on the Wizards side of the ball are plentiful. One is Bradley Beal, who took eight shots in 32 minutes and finished with just seven points (and only 34 touches, just sixth most on the team). Also: The bench struggled to score (aside from Thornton’s 23 points) and defend. Wall’s inability to take over as he’s done so many times this season hurt, too.

On the Hawks side of the ball, there was just one standout reason why the Wizards came up woefully short: Dennis Schröder, the 6-foot-2 point guard who hit them with the roughneck business.

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.