WASHINGTON (AP) – If Atlanta and Washington do meet in the postseason, Trae Young and the Hawks should feel pretty confident after this week.
Young scored 28 points, including a key three-pointer with 1:17 remaining that helped Atlanta hold off the Wizards 114-107 yesterday.
The Hawks won in Washington for the second time in three days in what may have been a preview of a play-in round matchup in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta is in eighth place, and the Wizards are a half-game up on Chicago for 10th.
“It’s the end of the year, and teams are supposed to be hitting their strides and connecting and clicking,” Young said. “I think we’re just trying to do that on both ends and not just one end. We’ve just got to keep it going. Took care of our two games here.”
The Hawks led by 13 in the fourth quarter, but Washington made a game of it down the stretch. It was 106-104 when Young connected from long distance to push the lead to five.
The Wizards still trailed by just three when Bradley Beal came up empty trying for a quick two-pointer. Dejounte Murray made two free throws for Atlanta with 12.7 seconds left, and the Hawks closed out the game from there.
“We competed on the defensive end, I think as well as we have, from what I’ve seen in my time here,” said Atlanta coach Quin Snyder, who took over the Hawks late last month. “I was happy with how we competed.”
Beal led Washington with 27 points and Kristaps Porzingis scored 22.
“No moral victories, we’ve got to be a lot better,” Beal said. “We knew and understood the situation, the series coming into tonight, the seeding and what that could do for us. Laying eggs. We’ve got to fight through it and these next 15, got to really make a push.”
Atlanta outscored the Wizards 32-21 in the second quarter to take a 56-50 lead into halftime. De’Andre Hunter finished with 18 points for the Hawks and Murray contributed 16.
It was the third game between these teams in 11 days. The Hawks won 122-120 on Wednesday, and the Wizards won 119-116 at Atlanta on February 28.
Before the game, Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr clearly understood the importance of these head-to-head matchups.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit,” he said. “Every game at this point is probably a higher degree of importance, specifically with where we are in the seeding and where they are.”
It wasn’t even close from three-point range, with Atlanta going 15 of 31 and Washington seven of 27. Young went six of 10 and Bogdan Bogdanovic was four for eight. Bogdanovic scored 15 points.