Hawks kick off road trip with wire-to-wire win over Wizards

Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) shoots and scores against Washington Wizards guard Bilal Coulibaly, center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) shoots and scores against Washington Wizards guard Bilal Coulibaly, center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON -- The Hawks kicked off their latest extended road trip with a 136-108 win over the Wizards on Saturday at Capital One Arena.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks created pressure and generated plenty of offense off the turnovers they forced in the first half. They scored 21 points off of the Wizards’ 12 turnovers. The Hawks forced the Wizards to speed up their dribbles and they sent passes out of bounds.

If the ball didn’t go to the sidelines, the Hawks were snatching the ball away from them, with 11 steals through the first three quarters.

Coming into the night, the Hawks ranked fourth in the league in steals per game and the Wizards knew they had to take care of the ball against them. But they did not and the Hawks scored 27 points off of the turnovers.

But the Hawks also took care of the ball on the offensive end. Before the Hawks pulled the regular rotation players, the team had just four turnovers.

“We played great,” Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter said. “I think Trae (Young) kind of helped set the tone, picking up full court. When you see a guy doing that, that just gives the rest of the team energy to compete and play defense. So like I said, I think he really started it off for us.”

Despite the penchant for forcing turnovers, the Hawks still give up on average 121.7 points per game and they rank 24th in the league in defense with a rating of 117.3.

2. But the Hawks strung together a full 48 minutes of play, picking up their second wire-to-wire win this season. The closest margin they allowed the Wizards was 57-54 with 2:53 left in the second quarter.

They moved the ball and didn’t settle for the initial option, as five guys put up double figures off of 29 assists.

Hawks guards Young and Dejounte Murray combined for 20 of the team’s assists, which resulted in 49 of the 136 points. Young ended the night with 26 points to go along with his 10 assists and had multiple steals for the third straight game.

The Hawks have shot 50% or better from the field in four of their last six games as they continue to produce one of the league’s top offenses.

“I think we were really efficient. offensively,” coach Quin Snyder said. “We took care of the ball and in doing that gave ourselves a chance to defend.”

3. Early in the game, Hawks forward Jalen Johnson exited the matchup with a left wrist injury and the team ruled him out for the remainder. Johnson has had a strong third-year campaign so far. He’s averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game and carved a major role in the Hawks’ rotation.

The Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma looked to stop Johnson when he went up for a transition dunk and the Hawks forward landed on his left hand. Officials did not review the foul on Kuzma to see if it was deemed a flagrant and Johnson split a pair of free throws.

After the game, Snyder said officials told him that Kuzma was making a play on the ball.

“So it’s always just, any play where someone takes a foul the way Jalen did, it’s just unfortunate,” Snyder said. “Hopefully he’ll be okay. We will find out more.”

4. With Johnson out, the Hawks leaned on Hunter, Saddiq Bey and Bogdan Bogdanovic even more.

Hunter has continued to find a groove since he returned to the rotation following his ejection three games ago. He followed up his 25-point outing against the Nets on Wednesday with 20 points on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting from the floor and with three 3s.

He looked comfortable early with seven points in eight minutes, drawing a couple of three-point plays early.

5. With the Hawks holding a 30-point lead over the Wizards early in the fourth quarter, they took the chance to rest their starters and allow for some of their reserves to take the floor. So Hawks fans got the chance to see veteran guard Patty Mills finally make his debut for the team. He scored three in five minutes.

Stat to know

10 -- The Hawks have at least 10 steals in six games this season.

Quotable

“I was happy that we felt like we played 48 minutes. When you play well enough to get a good lead, oftentimes you lose focus. I didn’t think we did that tonight, everybody that was in the game. So it was good to see” -- Snyder

Up next

The Hawks return to action against the Celtics on Sunday in Boston on the second night of back-to-back games.

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