WASHINGTON, DC -  JANUARY 2: Thomas Bryant #13 of the Washington Wizards goes up for a dunk against the Atlanta Hawks on January 2, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards cruise in fourth quarter to beat Hawks, 114-98

The Wizards have a tough month of January coming up, and they had an opportunity to start 2019 off on the right foot in D.C. on Wednesday. Facing a lowly Hawks team dealing with injury issues of their own, Washington capitalized on a pair of off days, cruising to a 114-98 victory down the stretch at Capital One Arena.

Atlanta battled for most of the contest, using big nights from Alex Len (24 points, 11 rebounds off the bench) and John Collins (21 points), but Washington finished the game on a 20-4 run to win comfortably. Bradley Beal led the scoring for the Wizards with 24 points, while Jeff Green added 22. Thomas Bryant (16 points, career-high 15 rebounds) and Tomas Satoransky (14 points, career-high 11 rebounds, seven assists) added double-doubles on the night while Otto Porter Jr. scored eight points in his return from a 10-game absence.

“(Tomas Satoransky is) about winning. He's a winner,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “He'll be the first to tell you that he only focuses on helping the team win. He'd love to have three more assists tonight--he probably won't tell you that--to get the triple-double. He just plays hard. You just love the way he plays, he gives you great effort. He just makes the right reads. He has a pure heart, and just he wants to do the right thing. He's a great teammate who plays hard every night.”

After leading by just four heading into the fourth quarter, the Wizards locked in on defense in the final 12 minutes, holding the Hawks to just 14 points in the final frame. Atlanta didn’t hit a 3-pointer for the entire fourth quarter and shot just 28.6% from the field down the stretch. Beal led the way in the closing period with 11 points, and Washington scored 10 points off of 4 Atlanta turnovers in the fourth to save its best for last.

“We had to lock in,” said Thomas Bryant. “We knew they were getting some easy transition points. We knew they were getting into the paint more so we had to really lock in on the defensive note.”

Wednesday’s first half was all Wizards, as they grew their lead from six after the first quarter to 11 by halftime. Washington was shooting 51.1% from the field at the break (finished shooting 46.6%), and led Atlanta in paint scoring early.

The Hawks used their size advantage down low to engineer a comeback in the second half, most notably tying the game at 94 with just under six minutes to play thanks to an earlier 9-0 run that whittled away the Wizards’ double-digit lead.

Washington’s formula for success while John Wall misses the remainder of the season is going to require contributions from the entire rotation in the scoring department, and the Wizards did that again Wednesday. All five starters reached double figures, while the first three off the bench (Porter, Sam Dekker and Chasson Randle) all scored at least seven points. The Wizards also rebounded well as a team despite Atlanta’s size advantage down low, only trailing by two in the rebounding department by the end of the game. They now have to lock into what’s worked in their two straight wins and take it away from home where they’ve struggled mightily this season.

“I feel good. It’s good to be able to start the year with a win,” said Bradley Beal. “We just have to continue to build off of it. This was definitely a great defensive effort by us, staying with the game for 48 [minutes]. Now we have a really tough challenge with three games on the road.”

Up next for Washington is a tough three-game road trip that starts Friday night in Miami. Tip-off against the Heat is set for 8:00 P.M.

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