The Atlanta Hawks sought to slow down the Washington Wizards’ dynamic backcourt Wednesday. It didn’t work.
John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 63 points to lead the Wizards to a 109-101 Game 2 victory in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals before a raucous crowd at Verizon Center in D.C.
The Wizards now have a 2-0 series lead as the best-of-seven series shifts to Atlanta.
Beal scored 16 of his 31 points in the 4th quarter, including a 3-pointer to put team ahead by eight points with 38 seconds left.
“I feel like my flow is good, but my shot sucks. I’ve got to put the two together,” said Beal, who shot 12-for-27 from the floor. “I’m getting open looks. My teammates are doing a tremendous job with setting me up and creating opportunities for me, but I have to knock them down.”
The Wizards led by as much as 10 midway through the third quarter before the Hawks went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 67. Hawks’ All-Star forward Paul Millsap (27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) led the team’s comeback, driving to the bucket and drawing fouls against several Wizards players.
Officials called dozens of fouls throughout the game, with both teams to attempt a total of 71 free throws. Millsap and Wall had 15 free throw attempts apiece.
Wizards starting forwards Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., each saddled with four fouls early, both played less than 14 minutes the first three quarters.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks received a technical foul late in the second quarter, later admitting he got carried away in the moment.
“It’s an emotional game. We all care. Emotions sometimes get the best [of you],” he said. “I just think we fought threw a lot of adversity and the guys stuck together when things were not going the way we would have liked.”
Even with all the foul trouble, the Wizards starters played the last four and a half minutes of the game and went on a 16-4 run.
Although the Hawks scored 101 points, Brooks praised the team’s defense. Atlanta shot 4-for-20 beyond the arc, scored four fast-break points and committed six of the team’s 18 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“Turnovers killed us. We let them play their style of game,” Millsap said. “We got to do a better job of taking care of the ball, especially in the fourth quarter.”
The Wizards hope to increase their 16 fast-break point total on Wednesday at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta in Game 3 on Saturday.
Wizards point guard Brandon Jennings, who had one of his best offensive outputs since joining the club in with 10 points and four rebounds, said winning the two home games was a must.
“On the road it’s definitely tougher, so we have to be 10 times more locked in,” he said. “We just have to stick together. When calls or whatever don’t go our way, we can’t get caught up in that. We just have to play basketball.”