The Washington Wizards started the weekend with a blowout win, though things won’t get any easier.
The visiting Wizards look to end the Atlanta Hawks’ latest win streak at seven games Sunday and pull within two games of the Eastern Conference leaders.
Washington (25-11) opened up a 17-point lead after one quarter Friday and cruised to a 102-86 home win over Chicago. The Wizards have won three straight as they now try to win for the second straight time in Atlanta after losing 11 in a row there.
"It’s a great start to what we have to do and now we’ve got to go into Atlanta and try to get a win there," said point guard John Wall, who had 16 points and 12 assists.
The Hawks (28-8) present a formidable opponent as winners of 21 out of 23 after ending Detroit’s seven-game win streak with a 106-103 road victory Friday. Al Horford had his fifth double-double with 19 points and a season-high 16 rebounds.
"I got to stay a lot in the paint area and I was able to get the rebounds," Horford said. "Usually in our defense, I’m out more involved in the perimeter so it’s harder to get rebounds but tonight I was getting them."
The matchup to watch will be between Wall and Jeff Teague. Wall averages a league-high 8.4 minutes of possession while Teague is among the NBA’s best with 11.6 drives per game.
Teague got the best of Wall in Atlanta’s 106-102 road victory Nov. 25 with 28 points and he was credited with 20 drives that led to 24 points for the Hawks.
Wall, who had 21 points, 13 assists and seven turnovers, believes the Wizards will be better prepared this time.
"We’ve got to make our adjustments to guarding those guys," Wall said. "I think our defense is a lot better than what it was when we played those guys early in the season."
The Wizards are shooting an NBA-best 42.4 percent on catch-and-shoot attempts with the Hawks right behind them at 42.3. Kyle Korver leads the NBA with 314 catch-and-shoot points.
Korver also leads the NBA at 51.7 percent from beyond the arc while Washington tops the NBA in 3-point shooting at 39.7 percent.
The first meeting with Atlanta marked the last time Bradley Beal came off the bench. Beal was playing in his fourth game after being sidelined for the season’s first nine contest following left wrist surgery. Beal is shooting 47.7 percent on 3s to rank second on the team to Rasual Butler (49.6).
Beal and Butler made 6 of 9 3-pointers and combined for 30 points Friday.
"I think we just need to do the same thing we did tonight, just come out and play the same way, move the ball, share the ball and it starts on the defensive end as well," said Beal about Sunday’s game. "We just have to come out, locked in, ready to go and view it as a playoff game."
Wizards center Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 13 boards for his second straight double-double entering this matchup with Horford.