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Beal, Wall close out Game 2 win for Wizards

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TODD DYBAS

At the end, as it con­tin­u­ally does for the Wash­ing­ton Wizards, it came down to John Wall and Bradley Beal.

The fran­chise, sea­son and team’s post­sea­son hopes are built on the young duo. Wed­nes­day night, they com­bined to close the show.

Wall and Beal scored seven con­sec­u­tive bas­kets in the fi­nal min­utes to pull Game 2 of Wash­ing­ton’s first round play­off se­ries with the At­lanta Hawks out of the muck. Wall hit a jumper and dunked on the break. Beal hit a heal­ing 3-pointer. He was 3-for-9 from be­hind the 3-point line be­fore­hand and just 11-for-26 from the field dur­ing his sec­ond medi­ocre shoot­ing night of the se­ries. But, he found a wing 3-pointer to put Wash­ing­ton in front by eight with 38 sec­onds to play.

The 109-101 win put Wash­ing­ton in a pow­er­ful spot. It is up 2-0 af­ter two home games in the best-of-seven se­ries. Game 3 is Satur­day night in At­lanta. Two sea­sons ago, the Wizards swept their first-round play­off se­ries against the Toronto Rap­tors. They are in po­si­tion to do so again.

Bran­don Jen­nings en­gi­neered an of­fen­sive push by Wash­ing­ton early in the fourth quar­ter. He was re­spon­si­ble for six con­sec­u­tive points off of two midrange jumpers and a drop pass that led to a Ja­son Smith dunk. The Wizards tied the game dur­ing the surge, set­ting up the tight fi­nal six min­utes.

Wash­ing­ton took con­trol of the se­ries opener in the third quar­ter. Wed­nes­day, the Hawks flipped an eight-point half­time deficit into a four-point lead be­fore the fourth quar­ter be­gan. Marki­eff Mor­ris and Otto Porter played a com­bined five min­utes in the quar­ter be­cause of foul trou­ble. That al­lowed At­lanta All-Star Paul Mill­sap to get rolling. He scored 14 in the quar­ter, driv­ing to the rim and han­dling which­ever de­fen­sive op­tion the Wizards tried with Mor­ris ma­rooned on the bench.

Beal strug­gled through­out the quar­ter, go­ing 2-for-7 from the field. The 12 min­utes were an all-around spi­ral dur­ing which Wash­ing­ton was outscored 35-23.

The first half had the flow of a clogged storm drain. A game af­ter Mill­sap said the Wizards were “play­ing MMA” in Game 1, the ref­er­ees

made thor­ough use of their whis­tles in Game 2. The teams were called for 29 com­bined fouls in the first two quar­ters. Wash­ing­ton was charged with 16 of those, draw­ing the con­sis­tent ire of Wall and coach Scott Brooks. Brooks be­came ir­ri­tated enough that he re­ceived a tech­ni­cal foul in the sec­ond quar­ter.

Pil­ing up so many fouls re­stricted Wash­ing­ton’s front­court. Porter and Mor­ris were re­moved from the game early af­ter each ac­quired two fouls. They did not make it to the half be­fore each re­ceiv­ing a third foul. Foul trou­ble for the front­court forced Brooks to use three-guard line­ups with Jen­nings play­ing along­side Wall and Beal for a spell. Jen­nings started guard­ing the ball, but af­ter At­lanta point guard Dennis Schroder scored on him and backup wing player Kent Baze­more scored on him, Jen­nings was moved to guard a cor­ner shooter. His in­abil­ity to de­fend will be an is­sue go­ing for­ward for the Wizards in this se­ries and, if they ad­vance, be­yond.

Match­ing the un­ap­peal­ing look of a half filled with fouls was clunky shoot­ing. Wash­ing­ton shot 40.5 per­cent from the field. At­lanta shot 34.9 per­cent. The Hawks were 0-for-8 from be­hind the 3-point line.

Some­one had to lead de­spite the wide­spread way­ward play. Wash­ing­ton was up by eight, 51-43, at half­time. It went into the sec­ond half know­ing that Mor­ris and Porter needed to sur­vive as long as pos­si­ble with­out com­mit­ting a fourth foul. Nei­ther did. Porter com­mit­ted his fourth foul less than two min­utes into the third quar­ter and was re­placed by Kelly Oubre. Mor­ris com­mit­ted his fourth foul two min­utes later. Ja­son Smith en­tered the game for him.

Amid the mess was more ex­cel­lent play from Wizards cen­ter Marcin Gor­tat. He out­played for­mer team­mate Dwight Howard in Game 1. He did it again in Game 2. Gor­tat was 4-for-5 from the field, had four re­bounds, three as­sists and three blocked shots in the first half. Howard was again a lim­ited fac­tor dur­ing the two pe­ri­ods. Cen­ter is a spot that At­lanta needed to hold an ad­van­tage. It has through the first two games be­cause of Gor­tat’s stout and savvy play stop­ping Howard and, at times, Mill­sap.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Wizards guard Bradley Beal scores against the At­lanta Hawks in a 109-101 vic­tory on Wed­nes­day in Game 2 of their first-round se­ries.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

At­lanta Hawks for­ward Paul Mill­sap is fouled by Wash­ing­ton Wizards for­ward Ja­son Smith in Game 2 of their first round se­ries on Wed­nes­day. The teams were called for 29 com­bined fouls in the first two quar­ters, in­clud­ing 16 by the Wizards.

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