Wall stands strong as Wizards win Hawks series

John Wall scored 42 points and Bradley Beal added 31 as the Washington Wizards withstood a furious Atlanta comeback to close out the Hawks with a 115-99 victory and win the play-off series 4-2.

The Hawks fell behind by 22 early in the third quarter before making a game of it down the stretch. But the home team never led, and Wall stymied the rally with huge plays at both ends of the court.

Wall’s block of Dennis Schroder’s layup kept the Hawks from closing within a single point, and he hit every big shot in the closing minutes. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, ensuring that Washington picked up the first road victory by either team in the series.

The Wizards advance to face top-seeded Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Celtics closed out the Bulls 4-2 with a 105-83 victory in Chicago.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 31 points, and Schroder had 26.

After losing three close games in Washington, the Hawks seemed to run out of steam in the return to Philips Arena, ending a disappointing season.

Washington pushed out to a double-digit lead late in the first quarter, and closed the first half on a 19-4 run to take a 65-46 lead at the break. The Hawks turned the ball over six times during that five-minute stretch, making things easy for the Wizards.

Atlanta finished with 22 turnovers, including seven by Kent Bazemore.

But it was Wall, still seething over a second-round loss to the Hawks two years ago in which he was sidelined with a broken hand, who took control in the final period.

The turning point came with Atlanta on the cusp of coming all the way back.

With his team trailing 93-90, Schroder came up with a steal and took off for what looked like an uncontested layup. But Wall swooped in from behind and batted the ball off the backboard.

At the other end, Wall somehow got a stumbling drive to fall, further silencing a crowd that was in a frenzy as the home team rallied. Atlanta’s Jose Calderon missed a 3-pointer, and Wall knocked down a pullup jumper to stretch the lead back to 97-90.

The Hawks called timeout, and Wall stared down the fans at courtside before heading to the Washington bench.

After Wall’s huge block, Washington outscored Atlanta 22-9 to win going away.

TIP-INS

Wizards: F-C Jason Smith was able to play after leaving Game 5 with a sprained left knee. “Give our staff a lot of credit,” coach Scott Brooks said. “There was definitely a chance that he wasn’t going to play.” Smith went 12 minutes, failing to score. Markieff Morris finally managed to stay out of foul trouble. He scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and picked up only two fouls.

Hawks: C Dwight Howard, a non-factor most of the series, started out aggressively and seemed determined to have a big game. It didn’t last. He finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting.

Friday’s other NBA results:
Boston Celtics 105-83 Chicago Bulls
Los Angeles Clippers 98-93 Utah Jazz

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