Someone has to win: Hawks-Wizards square off
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Two of the coldest teams in the NBA get together on Tuesday night when the Atlanta Hawks host the Washington Wizards for the second time in a two-week period.
The Hawks (6-23) are coming off a three-game road trip that saw them drop a trio of games, most recently 144-127 to Brooklyn on Sunday. Atlanta has lost seven of its last eight games. The Wizards (12-18) saw their four-game losing streak end on Sunday when they beat the Los Angeles Lakers 128-110.
The Wizards beat the Hawks 131-117 on Dec. 5 in Atlanta. The two clubs split their four-games series a year ago.
Washington won that first meeting without even having John Wall available. The guard, who missed that game with personal reasons, has returned and is coming off a 40-point, 14-assist effort against the Lakers.
"When he gets going, it really sets the tone for us," said Washington's Sam Dekker, a recent acquisition.
Wall and Bradley Beal are one of the most prolific guard tandems in the NBA. Beal scored 25 against the Lakers and went off for 36 points against Atlanta in their first meeting. Beal has 23 games of at least 20 points this season.
Beal was last week's Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He averaged 30 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists from Dec. 3-8. During December, Beal has three 30-plus games and eight 20-plus games.
Atlanta is trying to figure out how to get off to a better start. The Hawks have allowed 42 points in the first two quarters of their last two games, against the Celtics and Nets. Atlanta was never in the game against Boston, but got as close as eight points against Brooklyn before running out of gas.
"It's all about figuring a way to get us going," Bazemore said.
Atlanta's most consistent player has been second-year forward John Collins, who had his streak of double-doubles end at six on Sunday. Collins missed the first 15 games of the season with a left ankle injury. Since returning, he is averaging 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds.
Bazemore, who had 20 points against the Nets, is averaging 12.9 points and rookie Trae Young is averaging 15.5 points and 7.1 assists. The club is missing Taurean Prince, their No. 3 scorer (15 points), who has missed four games with a left ankle sprain.
"The hole that we put ourselves in was a big issue," said first-year Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce. "We just have a way of getting off to slow starts. For some reason, we don't have that urgency."
Washington played Sunday without Otto Porter, who has missed three straight games with a bruised knee. Markieff Morris left at the half with the neck strain and will be re-assessed on Tuesday. Atlanta is also playing without Omari Spellman (hip) and Alex Poythress (ankle).
The Wizards are awaiting the completion of a trade with Phoenix that would send Kelly Oubre and Austin Rivers to the Suns for Trevor Ariza. Neither Oubre nor Rivers played on Sunday while the trade was pending.
Updated December 17, 2018