Wizards top Hawks to re­gain con­trol of se­ries

Wizards grind out win to put Hawks on brink in se­ries

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY TODD DYBAS

Bran­don Jen­nings wagged his left in­dex fin­ger and mouthed, “One more, one more” as he walked to the locker room. Jen­nings was us­ing his right hand to slap hands with joy­ous fans while de­liv­er­ing his de­cree. One more. That’s all that re­mains for Wash­ing­ton now.

Wednesday night’s 103-99 Wizards win was more sur­vival than con­trolled re­sult. It will not be re­mem­bered for grace or ease. But, it will be the win noted for putting Wash­ing­ton ahead 3-2 against the At­lanta Hawks in its first-round play­off se­ries.

Two chances to ad­vance are on the hori­zon. Game 6 is in At­lanta — where Wash­ing­ton has yet to win in this se­ries — on Friday night. If Game 7 is nec­es­sary, it will be back in Ver­i­zon Cen­ter on Sun­day.

“No­body has took over the se­ries, be­cause no­body has won on the op­pos­ing court yet,” John Wall said. “We know they have an amaz­ing crowd. They’re go­ing to come out and be loud. This is our first time hav­ing a close­out, close­out game on the road. We got to see what we can do.”

Ten­sion brewed with 2:49 to play. Marki­eff Mor­ris’ fifth foul led to an ar­gu­ment that led to a tech­ni­cal foul. The made free throw was fol­lowed by a Wizards miss and a Hawks dunk. Wash­ing­ton’s mea­ger two-point lead prompted Wizards coach Scott Brooks to call timeout.

Much like the se­ries, play swung evenly from there un­til Wall’s fi­nal points of the night, when, with just 47 sec­onds to play, the night’s scor­ing had fin­ished.

Wall’s long iso­la­tion jump shot went in and a ca­reen­ing end be­gan with Wash­ing­ton lead­ing by four. Marcin Gor­tat sti­fled Paul Mill­sap’s drive. Wall missed. Gor­tat pulled in the of­fen­sive re­bound, looked around and dis­cov­ered him­self open with 12 sec­onds to play. He de­cided to shoot in­stead of hold the ball or pass it. He missed.

“He’ll make that ev­ery night of the year other than tonight,” Brooks said.

But, the clock of­fered At­lanta few op­tions. Tim Har­d­away Jr. missed a 3-pointer with one sec­ond to play. The horn went off. The home team was re­lieved. Wall was im­pressed.

“I think that was the best we did all se­ries of scram­bling back and find­ing a man in tran­si­tion,” Wall said.

Bradley Beal scored 27 points. Wall fin­ished with 20 points and 14 as­sists. That duo also re­ceived some help. Otto Porter scored 17 points and Bo­jan Bog­danovic pro­vided 14 off the bench.

“We made a few more winning bas­ket­ball plays,” Brooks said. “We made a few more shots.”

Wash­ing­ton had cured so many mal­adies by the end of the third quar­ter. It led points in the paint, 30-28, af­ter be­ing crushed in that area the first four games of the se­ries. It was al­most level in re­bounds af­ter be­ing clob­bered there for the open­ing quar­ter-plus Wednesday. It had turned the ball over just five times. It was plus-8 in fast-break points.

And yet, it led by only four points at the end of the third. At­lanta ab­sorbed a third-quar­ter blow which put it be­hind by 11 points, then ral­lied to tie the game two min­utes af­ter run-stop­ping timeout.

Through­out the night, con­tain­ing Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder con­tin­ued to be a prob­lem. The dart­ing, German-born 23-year-old made all four of his 3-point­ers in the first half and five on the night.

His 16 points car­ried the Hawks through a first half in which they shot just 41.3 per­cent. He prefers trash-talk­ing and flair — he ar­rived Wednesday with a golden back­pack and metal­lic sil­ver shoes on — to a stoic ap­proach. With the lights bright­est in the play­offs, Schroder has tor­mented Wash­ing­ton. He fin­ished with 29 points, his most in the se­ries.

Wash­ing­ton used a wrin­kle and watched a norm in the first half.

It flashed a trap at Hawks me­nace Mill­sap, who had spent the first four games dic­ing up Marki­eff Mor­ris on iso­la­tions. The new tac­tic cre­ated a turnover and led to mul­ti­ple missed shots by At­lanta role play­ers. Brooks had been loathe to dou­ble-team any player dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. He said be­fore the game Wash­ing­ton had some defensive changes in mind. That was one.

But Mor­ris was not able to stay out of his standard foul trou­ble.

By the half, he again had three fouls and claimed a fourth less than three min­utes into the third quar­ter. He fin­ished with five, barely sur­viv­ing the night.

“This has been the hard­est it’s ever been for me to stay out of foul trou­ble,” Mor­ris said.

Mor­ris scored eight points against Mill­sap in lit­tle more than a quar­ter, leav­ing him just a point shy of his to­tals from Game 3 and 4, re­spec­tively.

Wash­ing­ton held a one-point lead once the grinder of a half ended. At­lanta led by seven at one point; Wash­ing­ton by five.

Both knew whomever failed in the sec­ond half would be fac­ing elim­i­na­tion 48 hours later. It turns out that’s the is­sue now fac­ing At­lanta, as Jen­nings was more than happy to note.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Wash­ing­ton Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal chest-bump in the sec­ond half of their team’s 103-99 Game 5 vic­tory on Wednesday. Beal scored 27 points, while Wall fin­ished with 20 points and 14 as­sists to give the Wizards a 3-2 lead in their first round play­off se­ries. Game 6 is Friday night.

Wash­ing­ton Wizards for­ward Ja­son Smith dunks against At­lanta Hawks for­ward Kent Baze­more in the sec­ond half on Wednesday. The Wizards led points in the paint.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Wash­ing­ton Wizards’ Otto Porter Jr. ges­tures af­ter a 3-pointer in the sec­ond half on Wednesday. Porter scored 17 in the win.

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