Hawks bounce back from loss, pull away from Wizards
The Atlanta Hawks didn't want their long winning streak to suddenly turn into a losing streak.
Jeff Teague made sure they got back on track.
Teague held his own in an electrifying duel with John Wall, scoring 26 points and dishing out eight assists as the Hawks bounced back from their first loss in more than a month with a 105-96 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
Al Horford added 21 points and 13 rebounds, helping the East-leading Hawks pull away in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta (41-9) was coming off a 115-100 loss at New Orleans that snapped their franchise-record, 19-game winning streak. They overcame a dismal third quarter to beat the Wizards for the third straight time this season.
"It's big to get a win, get back on the winning track," Teague said. "We had a tough loss in New Orleans."
Teague finished off the Wizards with a drive to the basket, laying the ball in despite getting bounced to the floor by Marcin Gortat. Teague sank the free throw to complete the three-point play, giving Atlanta a 103-92 lead with 1:54 remaining.
"You can't have those spurts where bad play on our part puts us back in a hole after we dig ourselves out of it," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
Wall matched Teague nearly basket for basket, scoring 24 points and handing out nine assists. Bradley Beal added 23 points, but it wasn't enough to keep Washington from its season-high fourth consecutive loss.
"That was a heck of a matchup at point guard," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.
As usual, the Hawks had plenty of players chipping in, with DeMarre Carroll scoring 14, Paul Millsap 11 and Dennis Schroder 10 off the bench. That was only appropriate on an evening when the NBA announced a first: all five Atlanta starters (Teague, Horford, Millsap, Carroll and Kyle Korver) were named players of the month for January after teaming up to lead the Hawks to a 17-0 record.
The players weren't aware of the honor until after the game.
"That's crazy," Teague said. "But it just shows we're a team. It's cool for the NBA to do that."
The Hawks knocked down seven 3-pointers in the opening quarter, building a 29-18 lead. They stretched the margin as high as 16 and led 59-46 at halftime, but the Wizards dominated the third quarter.
Atlanta endured a miserable stretch, missing eight of nine shots from the field and four of six free throws, in addition to turning it over twice. The Wizards took advantage, surging ahead for the first time since the opening minutes, 74-73, on Wall's two free throws with 1:17 left in the third.
The Hawks hit the final two baskets of the quarter, reclaiming a 77-74 lead heading to the final period.
They never trailed again.
"We felt this is a game that could really give us momentum," Washington's Paul Pierce said. "We got back in it in the third. We just couldn't keep it up."
Wizards: Wittman was assessed a technical with 4:30 remaining after complaining about a foul on Pierce, who was called for contesting a desperation 3 by Carroll. Korver stepped in to make the technical, then Carroll hit two of three free throws. ... Wall became the second player in franchise history to have 500 assists by the 50th game of the season. Rod Strickland reached 500 in the 48th game of the 1997-98 season. Wall now has 508.
Hawks: Atlanta improved to 34-2 overall and 19-0 at home when leading at halftime. ... G Shelvin Mack (left calf strain) missed his ninth straight game but is getting close to returning, according to Budenholzer. ... The Hawks won despite an off night for Korver, who shot only 1 of 6 from beyond the arc. ... Mike Scott had a thunderous dunk with 6:45 to go, pushing the Hawks to a 90-79 lead, bringing the bench to its feet, and ensuring that Atlanta had the momentum the rest of the way.
NASCAR star Kyle Busch attended the game as part of a promotional appearance leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500. He spoke with the media beforehand, took part in some of the in-game entertainment, and sat in with the Hawks broadcast team for part of the second quarter, squeezing in between Bob Rathbun and NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins.
Wizards: At Charlotte on Thursday.
Hawks: Host West-leading Golden State on Friday in the first meeting this season between the teams with the NBA's best records.