With four minutes left in the game, the Wizards had Musta Shakur, Othyus Jeffers, Larry Owens, Yi Jianlian and Kevin Seraphin on the floor. Yes, it was garbage time at Verizon Center, and this time it was Washington with the insurmountable lead. The Wizards cruised past the Hawks for a 115-83 win on Saturday night.
Fans were streaming for the exits during the fourth-quarter T-shirt toss. Incredible. It's tempting to say that this win was more the product of a no-show by Atlanta, who did not display any hint of caring. So tempting, I went ahead and wrote that in the last update on this stream. But let's credit the Wizards. They put their foot on Atlanta's throat in the fourh quarter, which was an absolute slaughter. To have effectively closed out this game without any drama is a positive for a team that hasn't been in this situation often this season.
Andray Blatche continues to put up numbers, going for 23 points on 9 for 15 shooting. John Wall pitched in with 19 points and 17 assists.
The Wizards are playing with a lot of energy. Of course, it helps that the Hawks don't seem to care about this game. Like, at all. And so, by virtue of their engagement, Washington leads 88-72 at the end of the third quarter.
Let's look at some "effort" statistics. The Hawks are not defending with enthusiasm, allowing Washington to shoot 55 percent from the field. They're getting killed on the boards and hurt in transition. Andray Blatche is doing work.
That said, let's not completely discredit the Wizards. John Wall has made wise decisions on the fast-break for the most part, and as 12 points and 6 assists. Jordan Crawford has been somewhat limited by foul trouble, but to his credit has not forced the issue terribly on offense. That could have been expected since he is going up against his former team -- and he likes to gun no matter the situation.
It's unclear what to take from this game. But one thing is for sure: the Hawks might be headed to the playoffs but the Wizards aren't the ones playing like their season is over.
This is the battle for Kirk Hinrich's heart. Okay, no it's not. That doesn't even make sense. This is just the battle of Wizards vs. Hawks. One team, Washington, just wants to go out and compete. The other, Atlanta, is trying to rest up, and prepare for the playoffs at the same time.
Speaking for himself, Joe Johnson said before the game that it's important to him to get in an offensive rhythm heading into the playoffs, even as Atlanta simply tries to avoid injury. Then again, SB Nation Atlanta framed their preview by saying "the meaningless game tour rolls into our nation's capital." Let's all be glad that the government shut down allowed me to metro here. I digress ...
Back to the major storyline. The trade. The Wizards flipped Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong to the Hawks for Jordan Crawford, Mo Evans, Mike Bibby and a first-round draft pick. As expected, this trade has accomplished something for each team. What wasn't expected is that Jordan Crawford has been routinely hitting 20+ points (even if it has taken him 20+ shots to get there).
So that's how this shapes up. Jordan Crawford going against his old team, the guy he was traded for (Kirk Hinrich) and his old buddy (Jeff Teague). That might not make the most meaningful game, but it means something. Let's watch!