Wall, Ariza lead Wizards over Hawks, 108-101

A slow start to the season turned into Washington’s best

November in 29 years.

John Wall had 26 points and 12 assists, Trevor Ariza scored 24

points and made five 3-pointers, and the Wizards beat the Atlanta

Hawks 108-101 on Saturday night.

The Wizards lost their first three games and seven of their

first nine, but have now won six of their last eight. They won

eight games in November for the first time since 1984.

”This was a good month for us. It was a tough start to the

month, to the season. We didn’t want to get the start we had, but

it happened,” coach Randy Wittman said.

Washington has played the last four games without starting guard

Bradley Beal, hasn’t had first-round draft choice Otto Porter at

all, and still managed to nearly break even. Their 8-9 record isn’t

what they want it to be, but still makes the Wizards one of the

better teams in the Eastern Conference.

With the Hawks’ loss, there are just two teams in the conference

with winning records.

”I really don’t want to look at it like that. I want to see how

good we can be, but if you look at the conference, a lot of teams

are kind of in the middle right now. We’re trying to find ourselves

as a team, trying to put it together. Hopefully we can get it

going. I think we will,” Atlanta center Al Horford said.

Martell Webster added 19 points for Washington and also had five

3-pointers. Nene, who returned after missing Friday’s game at

Indiana with a right Achilles tendon injury, had 13 points and 12

rebounds.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which

cut an 18-point, third-quarter deficit to 81-79 with 9:42 left, but

could not get closer.

Horford added 16 points and Jeff Teague had 15 for the

Hawks.

Ariza scored eight points in the final 9:20 to help secure the

win.

”We’re showing growth. We’re showing maturity. I feel we’re

ready to take the next step and become a playoff team,” Ariza

said.

Washington got some of its roughest road games out of the way,

losing to Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio in a rough

three-game trip. The Wizards also lost to Miami and Indiana on the

road.

”It wasn’t the easiest schedule to start with. I think it might

be a positive in the long run playing against some top quality

teams on the road early in the season,” Wittman said.

Washington took the lead early in the first quarter and led

28-20 after one. Thanks to two 3-pointers late in the second

quarter by Webster, the Wizards led 54-44 at halftime.

Washington hit on five of its first six shots in the third

quarter to take a 66-48 lead with 8:12 to play.

The Hawks answered with an 11-0 run to cut the lead to 66-59

with 4:20 to play, and Washington led 79-70 after three.

Wall had his first three games of 30-plus points from Nov.

22-26. He followed it with a 19-point performance on Wednesday at

Milwaukee, but had a bad night against the Pacers on Friday,

shooting just 4 for 14. Saturday night was much better.

”When we’re healthy, I feel we can compete with anybody,” Wall

said.

”We didn’t panic because we knew what kind of team we had. We

have a team that’s capable of being in the playoffs,” Wall

said.

NOTES: Atlanta G Kyle Korver missed his third straight game with

a bruised rib. . G Lou Williams didn’t play because Budenholzer has

chosen not to use him in back-to-back games as he recovers from ACL

surgery. . The Hawks’ next game is on Tuesday at San Antonio, where

Budenholzer spent nearly 20 years as a video coordinator and

assistant coach. ”I’m not allowed to look ahead. You’ve allowed to

ask, but I can’t look ahead,” Budenholzer said. ”Tomorrow or the

next day I can think about that, but right now I’m thinking about

Washington.” . F Al Harrington missed his ninth straight game with

a right knee injury. . Wittman and Budenholzer were each assessed a

technical foul in the second quarter for arguing a foul call.