Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hawks-Wizards Recap

   Writers Note: This was a game story written for other purposes, but for the sake of adding additional media it was placed here for convenience's sake. If you have wanted to see me write a game story, here you go.         

      If the Wizards home regular season finale was to be a possible second round playoff series preview, the Hawks wanted to avoid tipping their hand to a potential future playoff opponent. In another addition to the “rest or not to rest your starters” debate, the visitors chose the former and it showed in the box score, as the Wizards beat Atlanta’s reserves to pick up their first win in four tries against the Hawks this season, 108-99.  

        John Wall returned to the Wizards starting lineup after resting for the last two games and shaking off the effects of a bum ankle to score 18 of the Wizards’ 66 points in the first half, their third highest scoring first half this season.

          The Hawks rested four of their normal five starters, with Al Horford not even making the trip to Washington and Paul Millsap still sitting out due to an ongoing right shoulder injury, although the Hawks planned this specific arrangement for only tonight’s game.  

          “We evaluate it day by day but the expectation is to play our normal group and our normal starters tomorrow (against the Knicks),” Hawks Coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. The Hawks clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference on March 27.

         The game was not in much doubt after the Wizards went on a 14-5 run midway through the first quarter, with the Wizards largest lead hitting 25 points with 6:41 to go in the third quarter. The Hawks did manage to close the deficit to nine late in the fourth quarter but were never able to cut into the Wizards advantage further. Wall lead the way for Washington with 24 points and nine assists while Mike Scott lead the Hawks with 19.

         Even though the Wizards are more than likely locked into the Eastern Conference’s five seed, tonight was about wrapping up a wildly successful season at Verizon Center on a high note. A preseason goal for the team was to improve their home record.

        “That’s what these guys talked about all year long, from October on amongst themselves… and I still think they think they can probably do a better job.” Coach Randy Wittman said.

        “It’s a season where we’ve had a lot of ups and downs and let a lot of games slip away… but we’re happy with where we are the direction we’re going in.” Wall said.

        Wizards guard Bradley Beal echoed those sentiments.

        “No one should ever come in here and beat us on our own floor and that is what we want to happen in the playoffs.”

      The Wizards finished the season 29-12 at home, a seven game improvement from a season ago and their best home mark since 2004-05 when they also won 29 games. Overall, the Wizards’ 46 wins are the most since the 1978-79 season when they won 54 and lost in the NBA Finals to the Sonics.  

       Wall said he didn’t feel the effects of rust tonight despite resting the last two games.

      “I was great. I wasn’t fatigued or anything like that, I was fine.”

      “Me and Brad played pretty well except for turning the ball over way too much on my part.” He did have 10 turnovers tonight, which was a personal season high.

      He was listed as a game time decision after the morning shoot around, although Wall knew he was playing anyway. “I play with the media, y’all play with me sometimes” he joked.

     As for whether the Wizards will rest players themselves if they are officially locked into the five seed Tuesday night, Wittman remained non-committal.

     “Indiana’s got a lot to play for. It’s a big game for them. We’ll look at that tomorrow.”

       The Hawks play their home finale tomorrow night against the Knicks before traveling to Chicago for their season finale. The Wizards play their final 2 games on the road, first visiting playoff chasing Indiana Pacers on Tuesday before ending the season in Cleveland to play the Cavaliers on Wednesday. 

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