John Wall Leads Wizards to 109-101 Win Over Hawks to Take 2-0 Series Lead

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC -  APRIL 19: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards reacts during the game against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on April 19, 2017 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Washington Wizards were one of the best home teams in the NBA this season and have proved it so far in the playoffs.

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.

Wall finished with 32 points in the win, while Beal came through with 31.

Brian Geltzeiler of Hoop Critic summed up the effort:

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: 

Marcin Gortat and Jason Smith also provided a lot of help on both ends of the court:

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:

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.


What's Next?

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.