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Wizards fall to Hawks on emotional night in Atlanta
In what was an emotional day across the NBA, the Hawks defeated the Wizards 152-133 in Atlanta on Sunday night.
Players, coaches, and people around the world mourned the loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, as well as seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA.
The Hawks and NBA arenas around the league honored Bryant with a moment of silence before Sunday’s game. In honor of Bryant’s numbers eight and 24 with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Hawks took an eight-second backcourt violation. On the next possession, the Wizards held the ball for 24 seconds for a shot-clock violation.
“It’s a tough day for everybody,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said before the game. “He’s [Bryant] obviously one of the great sport legends of any sport. I pray for his family, his friends and all the fans across the world.”
“Words can’t describe and it doesn’t do any justice to who he is and how he impacted the sports world,” Brooks said later.
Isaiah Thomas was very close to Bryant and spoke to him as recently as last week. Like many kids growing up, he idolized Bryant.
“He meant everything to me,” Thomas said after the game. “I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant.”
Bradley Beal had to decline an invite to Bryant’s secret Mamba Sports Academy camp over the summer due to the birth of his son. Beal has studied Bryant's footwork over the years, and Bryant was one of his basketball idols growing up. Beal was overcome with emotion before the game, and spoke about Bryant’s impact after the game.
"He was our Jordan so to speak," Beal said postgame. "Hell, half of us got the chance to play with him and play against him so I know it hits home with everybody around the league."
On the court, in what was difficult to say the least considering the tragedy that took place earlier in the day, the Wizards had trouble stopping the Hawks all night. Atlanta led 78-72 at the half, with recently named All-Star starter Trae Young recording a double-double in the opening 24 minutes. Young, a mentee of Bryant, came out wearing a number eight jersey to begin the game in Bryant’s honor.
The Hawks began the third quarter on a 25-4 run, and would not relinquish that double-digit lead the rest of the game.
Beal finished with 40 points and six assists on 12-of-22 from the field and 15-of-18 from the free throw line. Troy Brown Jr. added 19 points off the bench. For the Hawks, Young finished with 45 points and 14 assists, while De’Andre Hunter added 25 points.
In the second quarter, Isaac Bonga left the game with a fractured tooth. Jordan McRae, who sprained his left ankle against the Raptors on January 17, exited in the third quarter with another injury. This time, McRae sprained his right ankle. Both injuries were another pair of blows to an already injury-riddled season.
Next up, the Wizards will take on the Bucks on Tuesday in Milwaukee at 8:00 P.M.