WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Hawks had all of one day to feel good about themselves.
A lost to the lowly Wizards 93-83 Saturday night came less than 24 hours after snapping a four-game losing streak with a win over the Jazz. The Hawks are reeling for sure. They have lost six of their past eight and any momentum gained was fleeting.
“Definitely,” said Hawks guard Jeff Teague when asked if the loss erased their good feelings and momentum. “We had this. We wanted it. We had the opportunity and some plays went wrong, we had some key turnovers. It just happens. They played well. They played with great emotion tonight. They got one of their key players back (John Wall) and they gave a great effort.”
The Hawks (21-15) lost a chance to sweep the season series with the Wizards, a team they entered having won 18 of 19, including six straight, against.
The Wizards (6-28), owners of the worst record in the NBA, won two straight for the first time all season.
How good was the win for the Wizard fans? All 15,331 in attendance at the Verizon Center went home with a free Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich because Josh Smith missed a pair of free throws with 4:04 remaining. The team gives away the treat if an opposing player misses two free throws in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks are left shaking their heads again.
“Points in the paint (was the difference),” Smith said. “We were a step behind on all of our coverages. When we start the game off automatically not running the coverages right it’s kind of hard to win any game.”
The Wizards outscored the Hawks 46-22 inside the lane.
The Wizards got a spark with the return of their star Wall. The guard missed the first 33 games of the season with a left knee injury. Wall did not start but received a standing ovation when he entered the game with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter. He had 14 points (six in the fourth quarter), four assists and two rebounds in 22 minutes.
“We were so focused on John Wall being back and containing him in transition and we forgot about the other guys being able to post up and get in the lane,” Teague said.
The Wizards also got 16 points apiece from Bradley Beal and A.J. Price.
Teague led the Hawks with a game-high 19 points. Al Horford added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Smith had 11 points.
Coach Larry Drew also blamed the loss on the team’s defensive effort. However, it was clear that once things were going in the wrong direction, the Hawks settled for jump shots, especially 3-pointers.
The Hawks were 7 of 24 from 3-point range, including 1 of 13 in the second half (0 of 7 in the third quarter).
“That is just something that you can’t do on the road,” Drew said. “I told the guys if we launch 24 3’s we won’t win another road game. We have to understand that when we play on the road we have to be selective with our shots. You have to be able to execute our offense. I’ve seen this is the past. If you settle for the 3 and they are not going you are going to find yourself behind.”
The Wizards led 51-50 at halftime despite leading by 12 points early in the second quarter. The Hawks actually took an eight-point lead in the second period by going on a 27-8 run. The streak was punctuated by three straight 3-pointers, two in a row from Lou Williams and one from Smith. The Wizards answered back by closing the half on a 12-3 run to take the narrowest of edges into intermission.
The Wizards led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter after the Hawks got off to another poor start coming out of halftime. The Hawks pulled within four points, 70-66, but Wall completed a three-point play with two seconds remaining for a cushion headed into the final quarter.
“The first couple of minutes, I look over to one of my coaches and said ‘Here goes the third quarter again,’” Drew said. “We have to find a way to get ourselves going to start the third. We can talk about it until we are blue in the face but we have to come out and get our energy up at the very beginning. The other teams are coming out ready. They are bringing the game right to us.”
The Hawk conclude a two-game road trip at the Bulls on Monday.
“We didn’t play good,” Williams said. “When it comes down to games like this, it’s not a science to me. If you don’t play good, you don’t win. The best thing we can do is get ready for Chicago.”