The Wizards used a 69-point second half to run past the Hawks on Sunday afternoon, taking Game 1 with a score of 114-107. John Wall scored 32 points and dished out 14 assists to lead the Wizards' starters, who all scored in double figures. Despite trailing 48-45 at the half, the Wizards turned it on in the second half, outscoring the Hawks 69-59. Now, some notes and takeaways from Game 1 of the series.
Wall puts on for D.C.
John Wall scored a postseason career-high 32 points to go along with his 14 assists. Wall made 12 of his 24 shots, went perfect at the free throw line (6/6), and hit two 3-pointers. He had seven assists in each half and had several highlight plays and passes. The Wizards had 25 fast break points, with many thanks to Wall. There was no doubting that Wall was the best player on the floor on Sunday.
"Not only is he one of the best players in his position, he's one of the best players in the league," Scott Brooks said after the win.
Morris' playoff debut one to remember
Markieff Morris made his playoff debut, and it was surely one he'll remember for a long time. With his twin brother Marcus watching courtside, Keef had 21 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks in his 38 minutes of action. Morris had multiple thunderous dunks and blocks in the game, including a few over All-Star Paul Millsap. Morris also defended Millsap well, holding him to 19 points and only two rebounds in the game.
“I thought he played with force all game long," Brooks said of Morris. "I thought he was a big part of our win. He was aggressive setting great screens and our playmakers were finding their open shots. We’ve been telling him the second half of the season [that] he’s not going to get open unless he creates opportunities to get open. I thought he’s been doing that the last couple of games of the season when he played."
The Wizards are now 11-4 this season when Morris scores 20+ points. Wall spoke highly of Morris at the podium with Keef by his side: "When he's playing as well as he did today for us, we're unstoppable."
Second half explosion
The Wizards struggled to manufacture much offense in the first half, only making 17 of their 51 shots (33.3%) for 45 points. Washington's defense kept them in it, however, holding Atlanta to 13/39 (33.3%) from the field and forcing 12 Hawks turnovers. Atlanta took 22 free throws in the first half to the Wizards' nine.
In the second half, the Wizards' offense came to life. Washington shot 28/49 (57.1%) in the last 24 minutes, including 16/27 (59.2%) in the third quarter. Wall dropped 15 in the third, while Morris added 11, leading the Wizards' 38-point quarter. Wall, who credited the team's aggressiveness in the second half, scored 19 of his 32 points in the second half. Bradley Beal scored 13 of his 20 in the second half as well.
“One thing I know that we can do is score the basketball," Brooks explained after the game. "We’ve been doing that at a high level all year – we were one of the league-leading field goal percentage teams – so that’s a good indicator about the way we move the ball [and] the way we find shooters. The way I would like to be able to score is score off of our defense. We did a pretty good job except for fouling [and] putting them on the free throw line, but I thought we did a good job. We scored 60, almost 70 points in that second half and we still didn’t make enough threes. Neither team could find the three ball consistently tonight – 28 percent for both teams shot from the three.”
Gortat vs. Howard
The battle down low between former teammates Marcin Gortat and Dwight Howard will be the matchup to watch all series. Gortat, with 14 points (7/11 FG) and 10 rebounds, put together a double-double and held Howard to seven points on 2/6 shooting. The Polish Hammer grabbed six offensive rebounds to Howard's four, and played very well in Game 1.
Gortat also threw down a monstrous dunk over Millsap in the game
"He did a great job of keeping Dwight (Howard) out of the paint, keeping him from getting some easy buckets, and from getting a lot of offensive rebounds too," Beal said about Gortat after the game. "He knows his role. Without him, man, we wouldn’t get half the shots, half of the possessions we get, we credit him. We did a great job of catching and finishing today, too."
Wizards slow down Hardaway, Bazemore
The Wizards were able to stifle the Hawks' talented wings Tim Hardaway Jr. (7p on 2/11 FG) and Kent Bazemore (12p on 4/10 FG). When Hardaway and Bazemore are scoring at will, the Hawks are tough to beat. Washington did a good job of forcing them into tough shots around the perimeter. Kelly Oubre Jr. was a big factor in defending them with two steals to go with his 11 points.
“You always have to give them credit, the defense," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said about the Wizards' defense against Hardaway. "They stayed connected to him, being physical but I think Tim had some looks that we feel that he is going to make that we will take again. I think Tim will be better going into Game Two. Probably has to move better without the ball, get better separation, continue to take good shots, continue to drive it and attack the basket.”
NEXT: Game 2: Wednesday, 7pm vs. Hawks (NBATV/CSN+)
The Wizards will look to keep it going. As Wall said at the podium, the Wizards need to protect home court.
“You definitely want to take care of home-court advantage," Wall said. "The Atlanta Hawks, they’re a great team, all they’re trying to do is come win one game here. They win one game, they feel like they are in control of the series. Our job is to protect home court. We take it one game at a time and we hope we take over when we get there.”
Wizards – Ian Mahinmi, Chris McCullough
Hawks – DeAndre' Bembry, Ryan Kelly
Shooting %: 45.0% (45/100)
3-point %: 28.6% (8/28)
FT %: 94.1% (16/17)
Rebounds: 42 (15 OREB)
Shooting %: 43.6% (34/78)
3-point %: 28.0% (7/25)
FT %: 82.1% (32/39)
Rebounds: 48 (13 OREB)