Otto Porter Jr. helps Washington Wizards steamroll Atlanta Hawks

By Stan Awtrey, The Sports Xchange
Otto Porter Jr. helps Washington Wizards steamroll Atlanta Hawks
Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) had 21 points and 11 rebounds on Friday and helped spark the Wizards to a 112-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which pulled Washington within a half-game of fourth place in the Eastern Conference. File Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

ATLANTA -- The last three games had been a struggle offensively for Washington forward Otto Porter Jr. He had totaled just 21 points and managed only six two nights earlier in Boston.

The veteran picked the right night to bounce back. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds on Friday and helped spark the Wizards to a 112-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which pulled Washington within a half-game of fourth place in the Eastern Conference.


Porter was 7 of 11 from the field, including five 3-point baskets. Two of them came in the first quarter when the Wizards seized the momentum. He was 12 of 28 in the three previous games.

"Otto is a knockdown shooter," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "He doesn't miss often. He feels very comfortable and everybody has a lot of confidence in him, myself, my staff. Any time he misses, we're surprised. He can flat-out shoot the ball from many parts of the floor. He's a big part of what we do."


It was the largest margin of victory of the season for the Wizards, eclipsing their 25-point win at Boston on Nov. 9.

Washington (26-20) has won three straight and 10 of its last 12 games and is within one-half game of the fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards never trailed and shot 48.8 percent from the field. They have won two of the three meetings with the Hawks and broke a two-game losing streak at Philips Arena.

"They didn't play well," Brooks said. "It wasn't their night tonight. Some of it was us, but not all of it. We played well, obviously. We did a great job setting the tone and making them take tough shots."

Washington's backcourt contributed plenty. Point guard John Wall had 19 points, eight rebounds and nine assists, with Bradley Beal adding 15 points and four assists. Forward Markieff Morris and center Marcin Gortat each scored 15 points, and Gortat added 12 rebounds.

Atlanta (27-20) got 15 points from guard Kent Bazemore, 12 points from guard Tim Hardaway Jr., and 12 points and 13 rebounds from center Dwight Howard, who had his 29th double-double of the season.


"Not a lot to say," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "They beat us in every facet of the game. So a lot of credit to Washington. They've been playing well and we didn't do anything to change that tonight."

The Hawks endured a poor floor game from point guard Dennis Schroder. He was 3 of 11 from the floor -- 2 of 9 in the first half -- and had four turnovers.

Schroder had averaged 21.3 points in the last four games but was limited to nine points. Forward Paul Millsap scored a season-low four points.

"We can't come out like that," Schroder said. "We just have to be better. It starts with me. I have to set the tone. I'll take that one."

The Wizards shot 56 percent from the floor and led 37-25 after the first quarter. Washington started the game with a 10-1 run and led by 15 after Wall hit two free throws with 1:30 left to make it 35-20. Washington had five 3-pointers in the quarter.

"Thirty-seven points ... I think that's poor defense," Budenholzer said. "Somebody shooting it well should be at maybe 25, 28, 30 points. But a 37-point quarter out of the gate is just too much."


The Wizards carried the momentum into the second quarter and built the lead to 25 points on Porter's 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left that made it 67-42. Washington led 67-45 at the half.

"We made some shots in the first half," Brooks said. "Guys were doing a great job moving the basketball and everybody touched the ball and was getting good looks."

Washington shot 53 percent from the field in the first half compared with 30 percent for Atlanta.

The Wizards never let Atlanta to get back in the game, led by as many as 30 points and took a 93-68 lead after three quarters. The teams played backups for most of the final quarter.


-- Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer wore a bow tie on Friday night in honor of Michael Goldberg, the executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association, who died last week at age 73. Budenholzer and Goldberg became friends when the coach began his career as an assistant at San Antonio.

-- Atlanta F Mike Muscala was active. He missed six straight games with a sprained ankle. Gary Neal was inactive for the Hawks.


-- Washington G John Wall and Atlanta F Paul Millsap were named to the NBA All-Star team as reserves. It is the fourth time each has been chosen.

-- Reports say Atlanta is among the teams interested in signing Lamar Patterson to a 10-day contract. He played 35 games for the Hawks last season.

-- Both teams play again Sunday. Atlanta will host the New York Knicks. Washington completes the second leg of a two-game road trip with a visit to New Orleans.

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