The Wizards got John Wall back but lost an ugly heartbreaker 82-81.
1. Ugly offensive game. Both teams were sloppy combining for 44 turnovers. The defense was good but the offense was careless.
2. Wizards’ turnovers. The Wizards had 19 of the game’s 44 combined turnovers. Too many of them were unforced and not enough of them came because they were being overly aggressive pushing pace. They had 9 in the 3rd quarter after they had built an early 10-point lead in the quarter.
3. Hawks blocked 13 shots. That combined with 19 turnovers meant the Wizards had 32 possessions that didn’t include a shot that made it to the rim.
4. Wall’s return was much more good than bad. For starters, Wizards fans should never forget what he did tonight. The man played with a broken wrist/hand. He was an inspiration and he played well. Yes he had 6 turnovers but his presence in the lineup was felt right from the start. For starters, the Wizards were much better defensively than they were in Game 4. He had 4 steals and 2 incredible blocked shots but the key to the teams’ defensive performance was Wall’s ability to make things harder for Teague and Schroder. He didn’t look that compromised because of the wrist/hand. He made several open-court plays in the first quarter that made it clear he was back, ready, and healthy enough to have an impact which he did.
5. Officiating. I thought this was a poorly officiated game….both ways. Wall should’ve been called for a foul on a pump-fake 3-point attempt by Teague in the first half. Beal traveled twice and wasn’t called for it. Beal got called for a charge on a clear no-call with the Wizards up 7 in the 3rd qtr. Pierce got fouled by Korver on the steal that led to Carroll bucket that gave Atlanta an 80-78 lead. That missed call cost the Wizards a chance to hold for the final shot of regulation in a tied game.
6. Wizards didn’t stay aggressive. They opened the 4th quarter with an 11-1 run to take a 9-point lead with six minutes left. They got too comfortable, became too slow, and had some bad offensive possessions. Atlanta put Carroll on Wall and that seemed to hurt the Wizards’ offensive sets. It’s why staying up-tempo even after made shots is so important for the Wizards. Facing a set defense tonight especially when Carroll moved to Wall created problems for Washington. After building that 9-point lead, they became stagnant, became easier to guard and Atlanta got the stops and then buried two huge threes as a part of an 8-0 run and the game was up for grabs again.
7. Defense on Korver. The combo of Beal primarily but also Porter on Korver has essentially shut him down. He had the huge long-range 3 in the 4th quarter but it was his only made shot of the night. He now has just 15 points in his last 3 games on 5-14 from the floor. He’s getting very few open looks.
8. Pierce go-ahead 3-pointer. The Pierce 3-pointer that gave the Wizards the lead was perfectly called and executed. It was a very good pass from Beal and a nice screen by Gortat. It would’ve been a helluva game-winner.
9. Horford game-winner. Blame it on Nene if you want but Pierce helped on the Schroder drive against Wall and Nene rotated to box out Millsap. That left the opening for Horford who made a great play. The reason Nene came back in for Gortat is that Nene was a better defender than Gortat tonight against the pick & roll in particular. Wittman wanted to stay small to guard the pick & roll guessing that the Hawks would go pick & roll but Schroder attacked the rim off the inbounds pass. It’s a tough call. If you put Gortat and Nene in the game to reduce the chance of an offensive rebound, you probably ensure that Horford or Millsap are going to get an open shot. Anybody that 2nd guesses can do it but Wittman was faced with more than one obvious answer.