A 109-101 home win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday gave the Wizards a 2-0 series lead in the first-round matchup.
It was an ugly game at times that featured 55 total fouls and 71 combined free-throw attempts, but Washington did what it took to pull it out.
Backcourt Closes out the Win
With three minutes remaining in the game, the Wizards turned to their best players and they delivered.
Up 99-96, John Wall scored four straight Washington points to extend the lead in the closing minutes. His backcourt mate Bradley Beal then nailed a three-pointer with 38 seconds left to make it 106-98, effectively sealing the win.
Washington Wizards @WashWizards
BEAL! DAGGER! #WizHawks on @CSNMA https://t.co/fpCcuSeIyE4/20/2017, 1:49:35 AM
Wall finished with 32 points in the win, while Beal came through with 31.
Brian Geltzeiler of Hoop Critic summed up the effort:
Brian Geltzeiler @hoopscritic
The Wizards belief in themselves may be the best thing they have going for them. They can play like crap and still make enough plays late4/20/2017, 1:47:51 AM
The two players shot just 21-of-47 from the field and combined for eight turnovers but made the key plays when needed to close on an 18-7 run.
Role Players Coming Up Big
Wall and Beal scored their points, but neither was as efficient as we have come to expect from the backcourt duo.
Markieff Morris and Otto Porter provided virtually nothing offensively while dealing with foul trouble.
Fortunately, the role players filled the void to keep the team afloat throughout the game.
Brandon Jennings was a spark plug off the bench with 10 points, including back-to-back threes in the fourth quarter. Michael Lee of The Vertical joked about his ability:
Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee
Playoffs, regular season, preseason, rec league, pickup game in the park, Brandon Jennings is always in mixtape mode4/20/2017, 1:21:14 AM
Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith also provided a lot of help on both ends of the court:
NBA TV @NBATV
Marcin Gortat has three blocks... in the 1Q! 😳 #NBAPlayoffs https://t.co/RgKUNerGjN4/19/2017, 11:29:15 PM
Jason Smith making plays on both sides of the floor on @NBATV! #NBAPlayoffs https://t.co/fr9jsXLPUP4/20/2017, 12:01:16 AM
Gortat totaled 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, while Smith added eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Poor Shooting Dooms Atlanta
The Hawks stayed in the game by getting to the free-throw line frequently.
They finished 33-of-38 from the charity stripe but shot 40.5 percent from the field and 4-of-20 from beyond the arc.
While Dennis Schroder scored 23 points, it took 21 shots and included a 1-of-8 performance from deep.
Paul Millsap was the only efficient player on the team, which came thanks to his ability to get his opponents in foul trouble, as Locked On Wizards' Ben Standig described:
Ben Standig @BenStandig
Paul Millsap said he wouldn't let Markieff Morris get into his head. Based on MMA comments/fouls, Millsap clearly got to the refs.4/20/2017, 1:05:08 AM
Morris and Porter had kept him in check last game but were forced to the bench most of the night because of fouls. This allowed the All-Star to keep Atlanta in the game with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, including a 14-point third quarter.
The series will now shift locations with Atlanta set to host the next two games. Game 3 is set for Saturday at 5:30 p.m. ET.
While the 2-0 advantage seems significant, the momentum can shift drastically with the Wizards going on the road. They had a losing record away from home this season, and the Hawks could easily even up the series with two strong showings.