All five Wizards starters score in double figures led by John Wall with 32 points and 14 assists as the Wizards take control in the second half and beat the Hawks in game 1, 114-107. Bradley Beal scored 22 points while Markieff Morris made his presence known with 21 points including some monstrous dunks in his playoff debut.
Everything was going well for Washington from the beginning. Shots were falling, they were winning the 50/50 balls, and Wall was finding his teammates in transition as Washington pulled out to an early 20-10 lead. But the reserves came in towards the end of the first quarter and it was a different story. Atlanta used a 17-2 run over the last three minutes of the quarter against mainly Washington’s reserves as Atlanta led, 29-25 after one.
The Wizards scoring drought carried over into the second quarter. But although shots weren’t falling for Washington, they stayed engaged and active on the defensive end. After a late three-pointer from Bradley Beal, Markieff Morris would get fouled on a three-point attempt as time expired. Morris would knock down all three free throws as the Wizards trailed 48-45 at halftime.
But before the teams could enter the tunnel, Morris and Milsap had some choice words for each other and had to be separated.
The scuffle seemed to fire Morris up as he scored a quick seven points (11 in the period) for Washington as the Wizards regained the lead 53-52. The Wizards got back to their bread and butter and pushed the ball in transition leading to layups for Wall or Wall dishing to teammates for open shots. Washington used a 15-3 run to take a 10 point lead which included several Markieff Morris posterizing dunks.
John Wall scored 15 in the period as the Wizards took a 83-76 lead into the fourth quarter.
Washington’s defense picked up where it left off from earlier in the season as two straight deflections led to layups for Bogdanovic on the other end. The Hawks made one last run and were able to cut the lead to five, 108-103 with 2:05 remaining as Taurean Prince hit a corner three for Atlanta. But Washington would hit their free-throws and Morris would find Wall for a touchdown pass and a layup as the Wizards take game 1, 114-107.
John Wall has his best career playoff performance
John Wall notched his first ever 30 point, 10 assist playoff game tonight as he ended the night with 32 points and 14 assists. Wall came out of the gate hot, struggled in the second quarter, but exploded in the third quarter for 15 of his 32 points.
John Wall looked to push the pace and also did a great job of getting Marcin Gortat some easy baskets. Wall was a perfect 6-6 from the line and connected on 2-4 three-point attempts.
Playoff Markieff Morris looks very good
This was Markieff Morris’ first playoff game tonight and he didn’t show any signs of rust or jitters. Morris scored 21 points to go along with four rebounds and four blocks as he won the matchup with Paul Milsap. Morris was very active on defense and took the matchup with Milsap personal as the two were chirping at each other the entire night. If we get this type of effort from Morris, this could be a quick series.
The bench remains a minor concern
The bench looked to get their act together towards the end of the regular season but reverted back to their old ways at times tonight. The reserves blew the lead in the second quarter which forced Brooks to shuffle in starters with the reserves in the second half. Kelly Oubre played very well in his playoff debut with 11 points and three rebounds but was a little overzealous to start. The only other reserve to score was Bogdanovic with four points.
It didn’t matter tonight and may not matter during this series, but the Wizards will need better production from their bench, especially with Mahinmi out.