Missed free throws late in the fourth quarter doom Washington as they lose their eighth consecutive game 99-92 to the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards kept the contest close through-out the night but their inexperience closing games was evident and as they've done many times this season, they found a new way to lose.
After the game Coach Flip Saunders described Washington’s style of play as “Playstation” like, where players would opt to isolate and create on their own as opposed to moving the ball.
“We can’t predetermine too many times what’s going to happen on the floor because when you do that your too easy to defend… They run people at you and trap you and you end up taking bad shots.”
Saunders credited the veteran Hawks club for their ball movement, especially in the fourth quarter.
“In the fourth quarter when they got their lead, they had four guys touch the ball before Marvin Williams hit a three from the corner out of a rotation.”
Josh Smith led all scorers with 29 points on 11-19 shooting. Smith and teammate Marvin Williams grabbed 16 and 12 rebounds respectively: season-highs for the forwards. Williams contributed 15 points in his first game back from a two-game suspension for an altercation he had with Knicks forward Shawne Williams.
Joe Johnson scored 21 points, 17 of which came during a monster third quarter. He and Nick Young were locked in a shoot-out for the majority of the night, which was unfortunate for the Wizards because it often left four other players watching the action.
“We know the Wizards are a streaky team and we had to gear up and be ready because they have guys that can put the ball in the basket,” said Johnson. “They have a lot of guys with individual talent and that was the case tonight.”
Young rebounded from a poor shooting night against Orlando to score 21 points, including 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. The only free throws Nick missed were probably the most important ones he took. With 9:35 left in the fourth quarter, Young had a chance to cut the lead to 2 but he clanked both off the back of the rim.
John Wall started the game on fire scoring 8 of his 18 points during the first quarter, most of which were off mid-range jump shots. Wall gave the crowd a scare when he went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury during the third quarter, but he remained in the game after a time-out.
Coach Saunders was pleased with the effort from his young point-guard.
“I was happy to see the way that this was a pretty good bounce back game for John in a back to back. I thought he had pretty good energy tonight.”
On the ‘flip’ side Saunders said he was disappointed his team didn’t have a presence inside. The starting frontcourt of JaVale McGee (12 pts) and Andray Blatche (14 pts) could only muster 11 combined rebounds for the game.
Kirk Hinrich came off the bench for another strong shooting performance scoring 13 points on 6 of 9 from the field. After the game, Hinrich sounded off on how he felt about the team’s recent losing streak.
“I would hope it bothers us. Not being here in past years, but having a season going the way it is and looking the way it’s going with losing games that I feel like are winnable games a lot of times and not showing consistent improvement, it’s just frustrating.”
The Wizards are back in action Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks come to town. They have four games left before the all-star break.
Wizards forward Yi Jianlian sustained what team officials are calling a sprained ankle. He left the game to receive treatment, and will be reevaluated on Monday. The Hawks Al Horford missed the game after he was hurt by a hard foul from Clippers’ star Blake Griffin on the final possession of last night’s game. Horford was a game-time decision.