Washington starts well, falls apart in 4th quarter
ATLANTA — The Washington Wizards played the stooge Thursday night for Atlanta’s season-opening party.
They helped center Dwight Howard write his name into the Hawks’ historical records. Also by the fourth quarter, their woeful effort on defense provided plenty of applause points for the announced sold-out crowd at Philips Arena.
Though Washington did just enough for long enough to create three quarters of a close game, the clutch-time moments of the114-99 loss revealed a team that’s still trying to adapt to the new era.
“Defensively, we have to do a better job of containing the basketball and then boxing out,” new coach Scott Brooks said. “I think we did a decent job of making them miss shots, but [there were] too many offensive rebounds.”
In his Hawks debut, Howard pulled down 19 rebounds, tied for thirdmost in franchise history since the team moved to Atlanta. Howard’s effort also beat the combined total of the Wizards’ frontcourt: Marcin Gortat had 11 while the team’s leading scorer, Markieff Morris, finished with four.
Still, Washington only trailed 81-80 entering the fourth. A good defensive showing could have pulled the Wizards to a win, but they capsized under a 24-6 fourth-quarter run.
“I don’t want to say the word I want to say to get fined,” John Wall said, “but yeah, I’m very upset.”
Wall was referring to the team’s defensive effort, but he also flashed anger after Kent Bazemore’s flagrant-1 foul on an attempted dunk in the third quarter.
Wall, who still has to get his conditioning back after offseason knee surgery, matched the longest streak of missed field goals to start a game in his career (nine). Also, Wall slipped twice while dribbling in a half-court set and his jumper was missing. Wall finished with 12 points (3-for-15) and 10 assists.
“I got shots that I wanted. I just missed them,” Wall said.
The Wizards’ John Wall drives against the Hawks’ Paul Millsap. Wall missed12 of 15 shots and finished with 12 points.