Wizards Falter as Hawks Pull Series Even at Two

ATLANTA — Paul Millsap bounced back from a sluggish start to score 19 points, Dwight Howard had his best game of the postseason and the Atlanta Hawks pulled away from the Washington Wizards 111-101 Monday night to even the opening-round playoff series at 2-all.

Howard, who was a non-factor through the first three games, had a double-double by halftime and finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.

The Hawks got double-figure scoring from seven players, including huge contributions off the bench from Kent Bazemore and Jose Calderon.

Bradley Beal scored 32 points, bouncing back from a dismal performance in Game 3, and John Wall had another stellar performance with 22 points and 10 assists.

But those two, as good as they were, couldn’t match a more balanced approach by the Hawks.

Now, a series marked by ill feelings that went so far as Markieff Morris calling Millsap “a crybaby” is down to a best-of-three. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Washington.

Bazemore scored 16 points and doled out seven assists, while the 35-year-old Calderon, picked up on waivers late in the regular season, chipped in with 10 points and five assists.

Calderon came up with a huge play as the Hawks began to stretch their lead. Leading a fast break after a Wizards turnover, he passed off to Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wing for a drive to the hoop.

Hardaway’s shot spun out, but the 6-foot-3 Calderon tipped it in for an 89-81 lead. The Spaniard pumped his fist and took off back the other way, screaming in delight.

Millsap and Dennis Schroder stretched the margin on back-to-back possessions.

Millsap grabbed an offensive rebound and managed to get the shot off while falling on his backside. The ball dropped in and he added the free throw for a 3-point play. Schroder followed with a 3-pointer, giving the Hawks a 103-93 lead with 4½ minutes to go.

Schroder ended up with 18 points after going scoreless in the first half, spending most of it on the bench after picking up three quick fouls.

The Wizards avoided the dismal start that essentially ruined their hopes in Game 3 before the first quarter was done.

With Beal finally knocking down some jumpers, Washington shot nearly 58 percent in the opening period and built a 35-28 lead.

Schroder’s foul troubles put the burden on Calderon, who responded brilliantly. Of course, it helped that Howard finally made an appearance in the series.

Having taken only 15 shots and scored 18 points in the first three games, he carried the load with Millsap struggling in the first half and Schroder watching from the bench. The enigmatic center had thunderous dunks on back-to-back possessions that really got the home crowd into the game.

Bazemore also played a huge role in the first-half turnaround, scoring 10 points to go along with five assists and even playing the point for a couple of minutes to give Calderon a rest.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Otto Porter Jr. was able to play after leaving Game 3 with a strained neck. He scored 13 points. … Bojan Bogdanovic was the only other Washington player in double figures, also with 13 points. … Kelly Oubre Jr. picked up three fouls in five minutes during the first half. … Marcin Gortat had 18 rebounds.

Hawks: Howard has scored at least 10 points in 80 career playoff games. … The Hawks averaged 62 points in the first half of the two games at Philips Arena. … With 11 points, Taurean Prince became the first Hawks rookie to reach double-figures in his first four playoff games since Pete Maravich did it in five straight in 1971. … Among those in the crowd: Hall of Famer Julius Erving, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and at least three members of the Atlanta Falcons: Devonta Freeman, Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel.

 

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(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press and 106.7 The Fan. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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