Paul Millsap scored a game-high 28 points while Dwight Howard snatched 19 rebounds in his Atlanta debut, as the Hawks took down the Wizards 114-99 in the season opener for both teams.
Bradley Beal slammed home for the Wizards’ first field goal of the season and it looked like the Scott Brooks era might get off to a good start, but it didn’t hold up for long. The Wizards started just 4-13 from the field and found themselves down midway through the first quarter. It could have been a lot worse, but fortunately for the Wizards, Markieff Morris was hot to begin this game. He knocked down three of his first five shots, including some tough jumpers in the midrange area.
Even though the Wizards scoring defense wasn’t up to par early on, the team was opportunistic as they had eight steals and turned the Hawks over 11 times in the first half. The Wizards went into halftime down 57-56.
Things got chippy early in the third quarter as John Wall went up for a dunk and Kent Bazemore submarined him. Cooler heads would prevail as Wall avoided injury but Bazemore was called for a flagrant-1 foul.
The Wizards took a quick 67-61 lead in the third quarter thanks to their starters. Unfortunately, the reserves did a poor job closing out the third quarter but even with their scoring struggles; the Wizards trailed by just one, 81-80 after three quarters.
And that’s when the wheels fell off. The Hawks went on a 21-5 run to bust this game open and they wouldn’t look back. The fourth quarter was filled with turnovers, miscues, bad shot selections, you name it; as the Wizards were outscored 33-19.
Here’s what we noticed in the season opener:
A slow start for Wall
As expected, it took a while to knock the cobwebs off and get going tonight in his first regular season action since undergoing surgery on both of his knees. Wall started 0-8 from the field and didn’t hit his first field goal of the game until there were 2.9 seconds remaining in the first half.
Even though his shot wasn’t falling, Wall still had seven assists and was opportunistic on defense with three steals in the first half.
Wall’s scoring struggles continued into the second half as he ended the night with 12 points on just 3-15 shooting.
Markieff Morris was a bright spot tonight
Markieff Morris kept the Wizards in this game with a team-high 13 points in the first half and 22 for the game. Morris was 2-3 from three-point range while playing some very stingy defense matched up against Paul Millsap. Morris will be a huge asset for this team if he can play at this level for the entire season.
The bench was a problem
Andrew Nicholson was the only Wizards’ bench player who played well tonight. Nicholson ended the night with nine points and seven rebounds. It was a night to forget for the rest of the reserves. The second unit struggled to score, committed too many turnovers, and had several head-scratching plays. The biggest head scratcher? Marcus Thornton getting extended playing time even though he went just 2-8 from the field including several air balls and forced shots. Tomas Satoransky didn’t get any playing time tonight until the game was out of hand.
It was just one game, but it looks like the reserve unit might be a problem for this team.