Wizards fall to Hawks, return to Washington with series at 2-2
Wizards lose series edge in Game 4 defeat to Hawks
ATLANTA | Paul Millsap made the head-scratching claim in Washington that the series was just 0-0 in his mind despite a 2-0 Washington lead. He was referring to the Wizards holding homecourt, and how Atlanta was undeterred by the deficit, expecting to do the same.
Millsap was correct. Atlanta took both games at home, tying the first-round playoff series with the Wizards after a 111-101 win Monday night at Phillips Arena. The series will last a minimum of six games. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Washington. Game 6 will be Friday night in Atlanta.
Bradley Beal scored 32 points. John Wall added 22 and 10 assists. But, Washington was undone by an early fourth-quarter sequence when Atlanta moved to an eightpoint lead against a band of the Wizards’ backup players. A rally by Washington’s starters was stalled when Dennis Schroder watched a 3-pointer bounce, bounce, bounce and drop to give Atlanta a 10-point lead with 1:47 to play.
By the end of the half, Washington’s positive first quarter work was undone. Monday’s second quarter looked similar to Saturday’s first quarter, when the Wizards were a botched version of themselves. They scored just 15 points after romping to 35 in the first quarter and a seven-point lead after 12 minutes. Once halftime arrived, Washington trailed by nine despite multiple game situations that should have worked to its advantage.
The prime case was foul trouble for Schroder. He played just nine minutes in the first half because three fouls forced him off the floor. Schroder, who was averaging 25 points per game in the first three games, had two fouls with 4:08 to play in the first quarter. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer left him on the floor. Less than 90 seconds later, Schroder committed his third and was done for the half.
Yet, his absence was not exploited by the Wizards. Their second quarter was populated with too many turnovers and missed jump shots. After not turning the ball over once in the first quarter, Washington turned it over eight times in the second. Jose Calderon, the Hawks’ creaky 35-year-old backup point guard, survived defensively against Brandon Jennings, Bojan Bogdanovic, then, eventually, even Beal. The quarter ended when Wall took a spinning midrange jumper against multiple defenders. He missed. Beal was standing at the top of the key and open when Wall shot. Beal did not help Wall up after the shot. Instead, he walked off the floor irritated.
Plugging away in the third drew Washington even. Beal scored nine points in the quarter, but picked up his fourth foul right at the end. He, like other Washington players, was a victim of Brandon Jennings’ inability to defend. Beal had to guard Schroder since it has been well-defined in the series that Jennings cannot. His fourth foul was a result of doing so. The Wizards had at least tied the game, setting up a fourth-quarter that could swing the series either way. That’s when Atlanta made Millsap look prescient.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal tries to break from the defense of Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. in a 111-101 Game 4 loss on Monday.