Story By: Erin Zollars
Photos By: Sol Tucker
One thing that is clear about the Wizards 114-107 victory over the Hawks, is that when John Wall puts his work boots on, there is some basketball getting done. Okay, he may not work on a construction site, but he has built a team that looks for his toughness to lead them through a game and that is exactly how he pulled out a gritty performance against the Hawks in Game 1.
Wall led the way for Washington with 32 points and 14 assists as the Wizards’ starters dominated the game to open the first and third quarters. The Hawks won the bench battle against their top-heavy opponents, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep them in the game.
You could tell this was going to be a fight in the second half that the Wizards were going to control as they walked off the court for halftime. The Hawks players, Dennis Schroeder and Paul Milsap were pulled away towards the locker room after jawing with Wall and Beal and Morris, probably most likely because they couldn’t handle the toughness they were giving them on the inside.
“I actually thought it hasn’t been when we were really playing our best basketball, but we kind of focused on improving offensively and getting back to the principles that we started the season off – defensive basketball and scoring off of our defense. But I know that John [Wall] was out and a couple of guys missed, Brad and Keiff. Our spirit in Detroit and our spirit in Miami, I knew we were back. In the last two film sessions and the last two practices I knew that we were going to play with a lot of passion. We just couldn’t make a shot in that second quarter and we put them on the free throw line in that second quarter. I thought it was a pretty consistent, solid basketball game for us competitively,” said Brooks.
The Hawks struggled with Washington’s swarming defense, committing 19 turnovers that paved the way for 25 fastbreak points for the Wizards. Wall was on another level in the third quarter, racking up 15 points in the period as Atlanta’s defense struggled to keep up with his speed.
Game 2 figures to be just as tough of a match up as some of the television analysts are already calling for a match-up against the Wizards in the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals.