The Atlanta Hawks answered the bell on Saturday, striking back for a decisive 116-98 Game 3 win over the Washington Wizards. Unlike the Pacers, who blew a 26-point lead in a five-point loss to the Cavaliers in Game 3 of that series, the Hawks stayed ahead all game long.
Atlanta jumped out to a 19-4 lead before extending it to 38-13 in the first quarter. The Hawks were able to shut down all Washington players save for John Wall, who poured in 14 points in the period.
The Wizards rallied in the third quarter, reducing the Hawks’ once huge lead to just 13 points. But Atlanta fought back.
The Hawks went to Paul Millsap, who finished with 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Dennis Schroder’s speed and timely three-point shooting resulted in 27 points and nine assists, and rookie forward Taurean Prince had his best game of the series. He caught the Wizards off-guard for 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, making both of his threes and bringing a junkyard dog defensive mentality reminiscent of ex-Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll.
Atlanta’s team effort kept its lead in tact from start to finish. It was a big win for a Hawks team that desperately needed a morale boost after dropping Games 1 and 2 in Washington.
Wall looked nearly unstoppable at times, torching the Hawks for 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including a sequence where he went coast-to-coast then behind-the-back before posterizing Kent Bazemore. But the Hawks were able to inhibit Bradley Beal, who finished with just 12 points on six-of-20 shooting.
Atlanta still trails, 2-1, in their first-round playoff series, but Game 4 is at home. If Saturday’s game is any indication of what the Wizards should expect the next go-round, Washington had better be ready to fight, and fight early.