Beal goes for 35 as Wizards top Hawks, 118-112

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The Wizards (23-39) defeated the Hawks (19-45) 118-112 on Friday night at Capital One Arena behind Bradley Beal’s 18th 35-point performance of the season. Beal led six Wizards scoring in double figures in a win fueled by a 28-6 run between the second and third quarters. Beal, who has now scored 25-plus points in 21 straight games, averaged 37.5 points per game in his two matchups with Atlanta this season.

Playing without Ish Smith (left hamstring tightness) for the second consecutive game, the Wizards had to rely on a playmaking-by-committee approach. While Beal managed most of the scoring, Shabazz Napier, Jerome Robinson and Troy Brown Jr. each recorded at least five assists.

“We made some big plays, made free throws, took care of the basketball,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. “We had the game in a pretty good spot and then we relax. When you relax, teams get hot and make three, then make a couple of threes and then they got hot. I thought we made some big plays down the stretch. [Davis Bertans] made a big three in the right corner, and we made our free throws. Troy [Brown Jr.] did a good job of taking the ball out those aren't easy passes to make under duress, under the time and the score and the situation. He did a good job of finding open guys.”

For the third time in the last four games, Beal came out firing from beyond the arc, hitting his first three 3-pointers and scoring nine of the Wizards’ first 13 points. Beal wasn’t the only one with a hot hand as both offenses battled in the first quarter. The teams combined to shoot 58.5% from the field and 52.6% from three in the first quarter.

Neither team managed to build a lead greater than five until the Wizards went up seven with 25 seconds left in the second quarter. The first half featured 13 lead changes and 11 ties. Washington shot 55.3% from the field, just behind Atlanta’s 56.1% clip. The difference in the opening half was the Wizards’ ability to get to the line. Washington shot 13-14 (.929) from the stripe while Atlanta managed just six attempts.

The opening minutes of the third quarter were as one-sided as the first half was balanced. A Rui Hachimura free throw and a 3-pointer from Beal in the first minute of the second half put the Wizards up double digits. Beal scored again on the following possession to continue what was a 15-4 Washington run. Beal’s first half touch carried into the third quarter as he poured in 11 more points, shooting 4-6 (.667) from the field and 3-4 (.750) from 3-point range. The Wizards maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of quarter, peaking at 19 points when Davis Bertans hit three free throws after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt. Bertans attempted six free throws in a three-second span after getting fouled beyond the arc on two possessions in a row.

Washington maintained a near-20-point lead for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter before Atlanta’s Cam Reddish, already playing one of his best games of the season, took over. With the Wizards up 12 with four minutes remaining, Reddish hit a three to cut the lead to nine – his first of nine points in a 2:30 span to bring the Hawks within four. Atlanta never managed to get any closer as Hachimura and Jerome Robinson each hit a pair of clutch free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

In his third consecutive start, Robinson played his most well-rounded game since joining the Wizards, totaling 14 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

“I feel like I’ve gotten better over the course of time,” Robinson said. “Just watching film and seeing the times where I could have been more aggressive, I think it has helped over a couple of games. Sometimes, I’ll make a move and then I’ll pass and I’m like, that was my opportunity. Just making mental notes of it, just staying aggressive and just playing through it.”

Up next, the Wizards host the Heat on Sunday at 7:00 P.M. at Capital One Arena in the teams’ third and final matchup of the season.