Published April 09, 2011
| Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Andray Blatche scored 23 points, John Wall had 19, and the Washington Wizards dealt the playoff-bound Atlanta Hawks their fourth straight loss, 115-83 on Saturday night.
The reeling Hawks, who are set to play Orlando in the playoffs, are heading into the postseason in less than ideal shape.
The Wizards broke a 12-game losing streak against Atlanta, have won four of six and are probably playing their best this season. They have just 10 healthy players — including five rookies and three who played in the NBA D-League this season.
Al Horford led the Hawks with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Joe Johnson had 16 as coach Larry Drew pulled his starters early in the fourth quarter.
Washington got off to a fast start, taking a 16-6 lead while hitting seven of their first nine shots. Thanks to a spurt from recent D-League refugees Othyus Jeffers and Larry Owens, they increased their lead to 44-25 four minutes into the second quarter.
Only 13 straight Atlanta points by Jamal Crawford kept them somewhat close, but that was all he scored.
Washington led 61-46 at halftime — with twice as many rebounds as the Hawks — 26-13.
A 9-0 run made it 76-53 midway through the third quarter, and the Wizards outscored Atlanta 27-11 in the fourth.
Washington had seven players who scored in double figures. Jianlian Yi had 15, Jeffers had 13 points and 11 rebounds, JaVale McGee 12, Owens and Maurice Evans 10 each.
The last time Atlanta played here on Feb. 5, they reached a season-high 15 games over .500 after their win. Since then, they're just 11-18, and soon after traded Evans, Jordan Crawford and Mike Bibby to the Wizards for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong. Bibby quickly negotiated a buyout from Washington, and Crawford, who was buried on Atlanta's bench, has flourished with the injury-ravaged Wizards.
In his first game against his former team, Crawford picked up three fouls in the first half, and hit just three of nine from the field, but had eight assists.
NOTES: The Hawks were missing F Josh Smith (sprained right knee) and C Jason Collins (sprained left ankle). ... Hinrich scored just three points in the first game here since the trade. The Kansas alum was amused to find a Virginia Commonwealth T-shirt hanging in his locker. VCU beat the Jayhawks in the NCAA tournament to advance to the Final Four. Wizards coach Flip Saunders volunteered that he was behind the prank. ... Owens, signed on Tuesday, played his third game for Washington — his first at home — but hasn't yet practiced with the team. ... The Wizards won for just the third time against a team with a winning record. ... The Hawks have three four-game losing streaks this season.