WASHINGTON -- The Hawks nabbed the first of two consecutive games against the Wizards with a 122-120 win Wednesday night.
Here are five observations.
1. The Hawks (33-33) have fought hard over their last stretch of games. This was the latest example. Trae Young gave his team a huge lift by scoring seven points in the last two minutes of the game.
Young scored 28 points, had four rebounds, 10 assists and three steals.
The guard said following that game that he wanted to make sure his shots fell, while he contributed on defense. He knocked down 11 of his 14 attempts from the floor.
“It’s obviously just one game, but I knew it was gonna work for me eventually,” Young said. “Obviously, you’re playing really hard on one end and just trying to do the same on the other. So I’m glad my offensive game matched my defense tonight.”
2. Hawks coach Quin Snyder said he was happy with the team’s effort but noted that there were still some breakdowns. The Hawks led the Wizards by six at the end of the first quarter but allowed them to get back into the matchup in the second quarter.
The Hawks gave up a total of 66 points in the second and third quarters, which allowed Wizards to not only climb back into the game but eventually take a 83-68 lead.
Keeping the momentum in their favor has been a struggle for the Hawks this season. With teams making adjustments, the Hawks have had some trouble getting back into rhythm quickly enough to stop their opponent’s run.
But Snyder identified that the Hawks have to avoid overhelping their teammates and learning to trust each other’s defensive game.
“We, at times, help unnecessarily and those are like practice shots,” Snyder said. “It happened against Miami and our guys know it. We just have to be, you know, just in the front of your mind instead of in the back of their mind.”
3. The Hawks left Kristaps Porzingis open from distance all night long and he made them pay. The 7-3 center made life very difficult for the Hawks as he not only knocked his shots down, but opened up the paint for teammate Bradley Beal.
With 3:04 in the game, the Hawks left Porzingis open as they tried to smother Beal in the paint. The Hawks didn’t rotate out in time and Porzingis made his sixth 3-pointer of the night. Then 1:22 later, the Hawks moved out to the perimeter to guard him, it left the lane free for Beal to score a layup.
Porzingis ended the night with career-high 43 points, who has averaged 23.8 in the last four games, on 16-of-21 shooting from the floor.
“Porzingis, he was unstoppable tonight,” Snyder said.
4. With the Wizards looking to stretch their lead midway through the third, the Hawks made adjustments to lean on their second unit a little more. The Hawks’ bench did have a slow start, scoring just nine points in the first half.
But Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half (seven in the third quarter and five in the fourth) as the Hawks held the Wizards to 11 points in the final six minutes of the third quarter.
The second unit powered the Hawks through the first seven minutes and helped regain the lead.
5. Snyder has mentioned numerous times that the team needs third-year forward Jalen Johnson. The 21-year-old proved why when he helped the Hawks regain the lead in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. Roughly 40 seconds later, he sent the Hawks bench flying after he slammed down a one-handed dunk on a putback.
“Coach told me to crash the offensive board, so I did,” Johnson said. “I used my athleticism.”
With Snyder looking to create some healthy competition among the team’s young players, Johnson has cracked the nine-man rotation. He’s played 15 or more minutes in three of the last four games and it has boosted his confidence each time.
Hawks 122, Wizards 120
Stat to know
9 - The Hawks recorded nine steals in the opening half, the club’s most steals in a single half since Feb. 19, 2021 (10, second half, at Boston).
“Coach (Snyder), he tells me, on to the next play. Like, he’s just giving me advice. I‘m going to halfcourt to talk to him during a free throw or something and he’s giving me pointers on what to do. So just having that communication has been great. And I’m looking forward to building a relationship with him.” -- Jalen Johnson on learning to shake off mistakes.
The Hawks wrap up their road trip against the Wizards at Capital One Arena on Friday.
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