- Chris Vivlamore The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
It’s a win streak.
The Hawks have won two in a row and they will take it.
For the first time this season the Hawks won back-to-back games after a 113-99 victory over the Wizards Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
The Hawks improved to 9-25. The Wizards fell to 19-16.
The Wizards were concerned about a letdown against the Hawks, especially coming off a Christmas day win over the Celtics. They have had trouble against sub-.500 teams this season – and they did again Wednesday.
The Hawks overcame an early 10-point deficit to win. The bad blood between the teams, stemming from two consecutive postseason series, may continue.
“We just have to do a better job of holding leads,” Wizards guard Jodie Meeks said. “Whatever the case may be, you have to find a way to win these types of games. They’re not a good team, but we feel like we’re better. Record-wise, we are. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing away or home, we have to win games like this.”
Here are some observations from the victory:
1. Fourth quarters have killed the Hawks this season. They have led, been tied or trailed by just one possession in the fourth quarter in 25 of their 34 games. They now have nine wins after closing out this victory.
“No doubt, at some point you want to win a couple in a row and put good games on top of good games, good days of practice on top of games,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of the two-game win streak. “It feels like it’s been coming. We’ve been playing better. Hopefully we can build off it.”
2. The Hawks trailed for much of the first three quarters. However, they outscored the Wizards 35-23 in the final period. They Hawks used a 22-8 fourth quarter run to pull away. Ersan Ilyasova had 12 points and Dennis Schroder had six points during the decisive run.
3. Schroder found Ilyasova for a corner 3-pointer near the end of the run. It gave the Hawks a 109-93 lead with 2:36 remaining.
“Dennis made a big play,” Ilyasova said. “He beat his guy and drew my defender on him. All I have to do is make the shot. It was a hell of a play.”
4. They Hawks trailed the entire first half and didn’t take their first lead until 4:54 remained in the third quarter, 67-66, when Marco Belinelli made all three free throws with 4:54 left. The Wizards retook the lead 10 seconds later. The second lead, 74-73, came with 2:12 left when Malcolm Delaney made a 3-pointer. It was the third lead in the third quarter that really propelled the Hawks. John Collins had a buzzer-beating tip-in to give the Hawks a 78-76 lead heading into the final period. The Hawks never trailed again and were only tied once.
5. The Collins tip was big and it energized a team and a large Philips Arena crowd that have seen too many fourth-quarter collapses.
“Just trying to be me,” Collins said. “Be athletic. Used energy. Try to energize the crowd and the team before we go into the biggest quarter of the game, the fourth. Tip like that can do a lot. I wasn’t expecting everybody to get has hyped as they did. I guess, in the moment, I was just playing. I’m glad I could have been of assistance.”
6. Every Hawks starter scored in double figures, led by Schroder with 21 points and Ilyasova with 20 points. Belinelli came off the bench with 20 points.
7. The Hawks outrebounded the Wizards by a significant margin, 53-40. They was a key to the victory – and will need to be moving forward.
“As a team, we just want to rebound the ball better and we can translate that to wins,” Collins said. “That is a big thing for us. We want to win games. For us to win games. For us rebounding has been an Achilles heel. We are just going to try to do a better job rebounding the ball.”
8. You’ve heard it before, you’ll hear it again. Defense. Defense. Defense. The Hawks won by getting stops during the fourth-quarter run.
“We have to rely on our defense,” Ilyasova said. “Like this game, there were times when we couldn’t make open shots and our defense carried us on.
9. The Hawks bench was big. Budenholzer credited the second unit for their play in the first and second half.
The Hawks bench outscored the Wizards but, more importantly, were a combined plus-73.
Budenholzer singled out Delaney.
“Probably one of my best games defensively,” said Delaney, who had seven points and three steals. “Even when I missed a shot, my mindset was to try to get the ball back on defense. I just wanted to bring energy. They have guys like Jodie Meeks and Bradley Beal, who like to come off screens. I take pride in chasing guys off screens and try to make it tough on them.”
10. The Hawks held the Wizards’ All-Star backcourt of John Wall and Beal to a combined 30 points. Wall had just 10 points on 3 of 9 shooting, including just one fourth-quarter point.
“I thought our bigs did a good job on him when appropriate,” Budenholzer said. “It was Dennis and Isaiah (Taylor) a lot on him.”