No Al Horford, no problem for the Atlanta Hawks as they defeated the Washington Wizards 99-92 at the Verizon Center on Saturday night, their 12th in a row over D.C.’s pro basketball franchise. The All-Star big man Horford sat out the contest with a bruised tailbone after a scary spill versus L.A. Clippers on Friday, but the Hawks still pounded the Wizards on the glass with a 45-33 advantage in rebounding, 10-7 on the offensive boards. Aside for a few minutes in the third quarter, the Hawks led throughout. The Wizards managed to keep the game within striking distance but were never able to get over the hump.
Josh Smith was dominant, finishing with 29 points on 11-19 from the field along with 16 boards, Marvin Williams went for a solid 15 and 12, and Joe Johnson contributed a very quiet, yet smooth 21 points on 7-12 shooting. Nick Young led the Wizards with 21 points, but got to that tally by taking 17 shots, and John Wall tallied 18 points with six rebounds, six assists and two turnovers.
The consecutive daggers came with three minutes remaining. The Hawks were up five when Smith abused Andray Blatche on an spin post move with the And-1 harm. Blatche did score three straight buckets for the Wizards from the five minute to the three minute mark of the fourth to keep the Wizards down just 88-83, so perhaps his defense suffered after his burst of points. After an empty trip by the Wizards on the offensive end after Smith put Atlanta up 91-83, Damien Wilkins, (yes, Damien Wilkins!) scored on a strong baseline move to push the Hawks to a 10 point lead with 2:10 left. That was essentially the ball game.
Another deciding factor in Hawks’ victory, other than a 13-2 edge in second chance points, was their work at the charity stripe. Atlanta nailed 26 of their 35 free-throw attempts, 13-13 in fourth quarter alone. The Wizards ended up a putrid 8-18 from the line, going just 1-6 in the final period. Washington actually shot better from the field (51-percent) then they did from free throw line (44-percent). Ouch.
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