Schroder’s Hot Hand Not Enough, Hawks Dropped In Game 5

WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards made a point of watching movies as a team this season, particularly during road trips. Their latest film session was something of a horror show. The footage of their defense against the Hawks in back-to-back losses at Atlanta wasn’t Oscar-worthy.

How they responded with the first-round series back on their turf? Two thumbs up.

Bradley Beal scored 27 points, and John Wall had 20 points and 14 assists as the Wizards regained control of their first-round playoff series with a 103-99 win over the Hawks on Wednesday night.

Fourth-seeded Washington leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series three games to two.

Dennis Schroder had 29 points and 11 assists for the fifth-seeded Hawks. His fifth 3-pointer cut the Wizards’ lead to 101-99 with 1:10 remaining, but Wall countered with a jumper on Washington’s next possession.

The Hawks missed their final two attempts from the field. Trailing by four, they regained possession with 11 seconds left but didn’t get off a shot until less than two seconds remained.

The series shifts to Atlanta for Game 6. The Hawks won Game 3 and 4 at home by an average margin of 14 points. Before the pivotal Game 5, Wizards coach Scott Brooks and the players held a “pretty direct and honest discussion” about the losses.

Atlanta dominated with points in the paint in the wins, including a 111-101 triumph in Game 4. Washington turned the tables Wednesday with a 40-36 advantage and nearly doubled the Hawks in fastbreak points (20-12) while holding Atlanta to 40.9 percent shooting from the field.

“If you’re not locked in, it’s easy to be forced to make mistakes — like the last game in Atlanta,” Brooks said. “Our film session was good (Tuesday) and we came back with a good focus.”

Paul Millsap finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Hawks. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 15.

Part of the strategic change involved sending a double team in the direction of Millsap rather than letting Atlanta’s offense run through its power forward. Though Millsap still scored at least 19 points for the fifth consecutive game in the series, he missed all three of his 3-point attempts, finished 8 of 19 from the field and had only two assists.

“We tried to put pressure on him,” Wizards starter Otto Porter said. “We definitely wanted to get it out of his hands early and go from there.”

Porter scored 17 points and sank 9 of 10 free throws for the Wizards. Washington offset another poor shooting night from the 3-point arc (7 of 24) by making 22 of 27 free throws.

The Wizards led 98-91 after Marcin Gortat’s first field goal of the game with 5:00 left. Neither team scored again until 3:20 remained when Washington’s Markieff Morris was called for his fifth personal followed by a technical foul moments later.

Schroder’s technical free throw started a 5-0 spurt and set up the final moments.

Atlanta’s point guard is not allowing Wall to dominate their matchup. Schroder is averaging 24.4 points and 7.2 assists in the series

“I think the confidence that he has, the aggressiveness and the competitiveness , all of those things rise this time of year on the road,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Schroder.

Leading 50-49 at halftime, the Wizards opened the third quarter with a 19-9 run as Wall and Porter accounted for 15 points in that stretch. Wall’s 3-pointer gave Washington a 69-58 lead, but the Hawks countered with a Hardaway-fueled 11-0 run before the Wizards entered the fourth quarter leading 83-79.

Schroder sank all four of his 3-point attempts and scored 16 points in the first half, but the Wizards entered the locker room with a 50-49 lead after trailing 34-27.

Beal scored 11 points in the first quarter but finished 1 of 9 from beyond the arc.

Gortat had five points and 10 rebounds. He took his first free throws of the series in the fourth quarter, making 3 of 4.

The Wizards now hope they can become the first road team to win a game this series.

“We know that we just gave up two (games) while were (in Atlanta),” Beal said. “At home we have a different edge about ourselves and we’re more locked in. We have to have the same approach down in Atlanta.”

The Hawks hope they can delay final credits from rolling and return to Washington for a Game 7 on Sunday.

“We’ve got more business to take care of,” Hardaway said. “Get one on Friday, come back here and lay it all out on Sunday.”

Gortat had five points and 10 rebounds. He took his first free throws of the series in the fourth quarter, making 3 of 4.

NOTES: The Wizards, already short-handed in the frontcourt, lost big man Jason Smith in the second half with a left calf contusion. He is day-to-day. … Wizards C Ian Mahinmi (calf) remains sidelined, but after Tuesday’s practice, he expressed optimism of a return in the series. … Hawks rookie F Taurean Prince scored in double figures in his fifth straight game, finishing with 10 points.

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