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Riding the Wizards Bench November

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Hawks Take Flight Late To Win Thriller

18 November 1997. Atlanta Hawks 98, Washington Wizards 89 (OT) (record: 4-6)
Game leaders: Strickland (24 points), Davis (12 rebounds), Strickland (10 assists)

This game went largely as I hypothesized yesterday. The Hawks showed that they know how to win in the fourth quarter (and subsequent overtime), overcoming an 11-point second half deficit, then shutting out the Wizards in the overtime period.

->> WashingtonPost.com: Wizards Draw a Blank in OT, Fall 98-89.
->> Scores & Stats: Atlanta Hawks/Washington Wizards Game Recap.

That's not to say the Wizards weren't competitive. They played the kind of ball in the second and third quarters that was incredible - challenging every shot, grabbing every missed shot (offensively and defensively), making hustle plays - that allowed them to outscore Atlanta 52-43 in those quarters. But in the fourth, the Hawks took control and used a 12-2 run to get a 6-point lead with about a minute left.

But Rod Strickland carried the team on his back and tied the game at 89. But in the overtime, the Wizards were just plain intimidated by Mutombo on offense and couldn't get the necessary stops on defense. Thus, the Wizards became the 6th team in NBA history to not score a point in an overtime period.

The team, and us fans too, should come out of this game feeling much more positive about the Wizards. They played a tough team with one missing superstar (CWebb) and another ailing (Howard, who still put up 20 points and 8 rebounds, but also showed some effects from a stiff back) to play this team tight. But when Harvey Grant (2 of 12) and Tracy Murray (4 of 15) shoot as poorly as they did, you're going to have problems.

Terry Davis played Mutombo well in the first half, getting Mutombo benched midway through the third quarter. But when Mutombo returned and Davis was left one-on-one with Mutombo, Mutombo woke up offensively for 12 points and forced the Wizards to double-team him to get rid of the ball. To be honest, it was necessary, because otherwise the Hawks were going to run away with the game offensively; that adjustment slowed down the Hawks and allowed the Wizards to creep back in and send the game to overtime.

Where do the Wizards go now? Only a road game tonight against the Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers. That's a tough match-up for what is surely a very tired team right now (3 Wizards played at least 40 minutes, 3 more played at least 30 minutes last night). Stay tuned.

wtf 19 November 1997

 <== In A Battle Of Second Units, Magic Cast A 'Win'-Spell Wizards Lose Third Straight With Flat Performance  ==>

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