Ten observations from Hawks loss to Wizards

Ten observations from Wizards 129, Hawks 104. . . .

1. Good defense was the main reason the Hawks had their best month. Bad defense has been their downfall while losing three straight games and four of five. At least the Hawks could say the Raptors are a great offensive team. The Bulls, Hornets and Wizards don't qualify, especially with Wizards' All-Star guard John Wall sidelined for this one. The Wizards still led by as many as 19 points in the first half, 61-45 at halftime and 92-71 after three quarters.  Said Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney: "We played bad; they played great. We couldn't do much on defense. They took advantage of everything and we couldn't make enough shots to keep the game close."

2. Wall sat out because of a sore left knee. That left an average offensive team without its leader in offensive rating among starters. Interestingly, Washington's leader in net rating is Otto Porter Jr. because the Wizards are much better defensively when he's on the floor.  The Hawks scored 71 points on 67 shots through three quarters before Wizards starters Beal, Marcin Gortat and Tomas Satoransky sat out the fourth quarter.

3. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer pregame on the Wall-less Wizards: "He's obviously a great player and commands a lot of attention. But a lot of things we do night in and night out. There are adjustments you may make. I think Beal will become a focus." Beal (18 points on 11 shots) was a problem for the Hawks but so was pretty much every other Wizards player who can spot up and shoot. The list included Porter, (2 of 4 on 3-pointers), Markieff Morris (4 of 5), Mike Scott (3 of 6) and Wall's lineup replacement, Satoransky (3 of 3).

Budenholzer: "(Seven-for-11) in the four spot, that creates a lot of pressure on any team's defense. Are you going to stick with the pick-and-pop bigs? Are you going to take away the paint? It really came down to Morris and Mike stretching us out and having a heck of a game."

4. The Hawks would have trouble matching that production on a good night. They had no chance with their top two scorers scuffling. Dennis Schroder (nine points on 12 shots, seven assists, three turnovers) wasn't effective after the first quarter. Kent Bazemore (three points on nine shots) wasn't effective at all offensively.

5. The Hawks had one of those games in which their focus on preventing scoring chances in the paint can lead to some prime 3-point shot opportunities for an opponent that moves the ball well. The Wizards did that (12 assists on their first 14 field goals) and made those open threes (7 for their first 8) while running out to the big early lead.

Delaney: "The people that we wanted to shoot did - Satoransky, we wanted him to shoot 3's, Markieff Morris. They just found a groove early and stuck with it. Our game plan just didn't work today."

6. Also confounding the Hawks' defensive plan were nonchalant closeouts by Schroder on corner 3-pointers. The weird thing about those: Schroder used the energy to run all the way over to the shooter before abruptly stopping and not getting a hand up.

7. Bazemore followed his good offensive game at Charlotte with a bad one. The Wizards were contesting well on Bazemore's 3-point shots. He kept firing away, missing his first five attempts. Bazemore tried to be more of a play-maker after halftime but it didn't work out before he went to the bench for good after just four minutes.

8. Taurean Prince followed his good offensive game at Charlotte with another efficient effort: 14 points on nine shots. His teammates found Prince good looks on corner 3's and he was making them (4-for-8 before garbage time).

9. This was not a good night for John Collins: one rebound and no shot attempts in 11 first-half minutes. Collins seemed uncharacteristically frustrated by the physical play and at one point got into it a kerfuffle with Ian Mahinmi. Collins earned his third foul midway through the second quarter. Budenholzer left Collins in the game and he got his fourth foul contesting Porter at the rim after his teammates on the perimeter gave Porter a free run to the basket.

10. The Delaney-Tyler Dorsey backcourt alignment made another first-half appearance. Entering tonight those two had the fourth-best defensive rating (99.7) among Hawks duos with at least 90 minutes played together. Dorsey scored a career-high 14 points and needed just six shots to do it (6-for-7 on free throws).

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