EditorsNote: Resending per client’s request
Wizards use defense to steamroll Hawks
WASHINGTON — Markieff Morris isn’t ready to declare the team defensive problems fixed, but the Washington Wizards are looking better on both ends of the court with the power forward finding his form.
Bradley Beal scored 19 points and Morris had 18 as the Washington Wizards rolled past the Atlanta Hawks for a 113-94 victory on Saturday night.
Kelly Oubre Jr. also had 18 points for the Wizards (7-5), who won back-to-back games for the first time since opening the season 3-0. Washington shot 53.8 percent from the field and led by as many as 25 points in the first meeting with Atlanta since winning last season’s first-round playoff series.
Washington’s defense impressed for a second consecutive game. Atlanta shot 41 percent from the field and had 24 turnovers, resulting in 39 points for the Wizards.
Taurean Prince scored 19 points and Marco Belinelli 15 for the Hawks (2-11).
Washington snapped a three-game home losing streak Thursday with a 111-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Wizards allowed an average of 121 points in the slide, but held the Lakers to 36 percent shooting from the field.
Dennis Schroder, Atlanta’s leading scorer, thrived against Washington in the playoffs, averaging 24.7 points and 7.7 assists in the six-game playoff series against the Wizards. The point guard missed all eight of his field-goal attempts in the first half and finished with seven points on 2-of-16 shooting.
“I missed a lot of (shots) tonight. It wasn’t my night,” Schroder said. “I still tried to support, tried to give everything I have. Sometimes you are going to have nights like that.”
Morris acknowledged some momentum gained defensively in the two wins, but bigger tests will follow.
“Not to take credit away from the Lakers and the Hawks, but they’re not the best offensive teams. Once we get to those good teams, then we’ll be able to measure what we have,” Morris said.
Morris missed the opening seven games after undergoing hernia surgery in September and serving a one-game suspension. After a couple rough outings, the power forward found his shooting rhythm and helped the team defense. He hit 6-of-8 attempts in the first half for 13 points against Atlanta and finished 8 of 10 from the field. This followed Morris sinking 6-of-7 attempts for 16 points Thursday.
“It’s great because he’s able to switch on the defensive end because he’s able to guard guards. It makes it easier on us,” Beal said of Morris’ impact on the defense. “His versatility is everything we need and his size is just perfect. Offensively, he’s getting his flow back.”
Washington entered the fourth quarter leading 76-67. The Wizards’ oft-maligned bench unit put the game away with a 12-0 run opening the final period and the Wizards eventually led 94-69 on Mike Scott’s jumper. Scott had 10 points and the Wizards’ bench outscored the Hawks 54-37.
“Just a good win,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Gave our starters time to rest in the fourth quarter. Lot of good play off the bench. Guys were moving the ball and looking for each other. That’s progress and hopefully we can continue to build off a game like tonight.”
John Wall skipped the team’s morning shootaround because of illness, but the All-Star guard started per usual. He scored 10 points of his 13 points in the first half as Washington led 49-42.
Atlanta dropped its third game in a row and second in as many days since defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-115 on Nov. 5. They lost 111-104 at Detroit on Friday.
“Credit to Washington, they played well,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Their bench had a good game or good night for them. For about a quarter and a half, it felt like we were doing well. I think we were up 37-30 and couldn’t get rebounds. They hit a couple of threes, an and-one and the game kind of changed.”
NOTES: F Ersan Ilyasova (left knee bone bruise) did not travel with the team. F Mike Muscala (sprained left ankle) was inactive. ... Washington outscored Atlanta in the paint 48-28 and dominated with fast-break points 21-6. ... Hawks G Malcolm Delaney started 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and scored all of his 11 points in the first half. ... The Wizards close out their four-game homestand Monday against Sacramento. Washington won the first meeting in Sacramento, 110-83 on Oct. 29. Atlanta visits the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.