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Hawks Claim Game 4 Behind Jeff Teague’s Big Night

Jeff Teague and Bradley Beal had quite a duel going all night, but Teague ultimately struck the fatal blow with a dagger three to put the Hawks up seven with just over a minute left. The Wizards fought back with two quick buckets, but Paul Pierce missed a wide open three to tie it and the Hawks prevailed, 106-101.

Beal continued his fantastic series, pouring in a new playoff career-high 34 points with seven assists, six rebounds, three steals and a block. He has really taken his game up a notch without John Wall, taking on much of the ball handling and playmaking responsibilities. Beal was everywhere Monday, draining jumpers and converting difficult layups. He made half of his eight threes and played a game-high 44 minutes.

Teague was every bit as good, netting 26 points and dishing out eight assists in only 32 minutes. He scored 10 points in the fourth, at times sharing the floor with backup Dennis Schröder. Schröder provided solid play off the bench once again with 14 points and eight assists of his own in 29 minutes. Coach Budenholzer took out DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver at separate times to insert the young guard into the lineup for key stretches of the fourth quarter.

The missing ingredient for Washington was its new X-factor: Otto Porter. Porter made only one field goal and didn’t attempt anything inside the arc. After grabbing 9.3 rebounds a game earlier in the series, Porter only nabbed one offensive rebound and five overall. He still contributed in his 30 minutes with three assists and tough defense, but the Wizards needed more out of their young wing.

Along with Teague, Al Horford carried the Hawks all night, as they never trailed after the first quarter. Horford contributed 18 points and 10 boards with two steals and two blocks apiece in a team-high 40 minutes. Budenholzer tried Mike Muscala out at power forward in lieu of Pero Antic at times, but Antic was more effective in Game 4. He made three of his four shots and the Hawks were +7 in his 15 minutes.

Despite missing the critical late jumper, Pierce was electric once again. He drilled his first five threes, some of them spectacular. He finished 8-of-13 with 22 points and five boards in 33 minutes. It was a true throwback performance from The Truth in a playoffs stuffed with them. It wasn’t quite enough for Washington though, as Atlanta seemed to have an answer for each run.

Marcin Gortat had a night he’ll try to forget about immediately. He missed his first six field goals and was constantly pouting, committing bad fouls and complaining incessantly about them. He grabbed eight rebounds in his 33 minutes but only scored three points. The Wizards needed a lot more out of Gortat, but at least Nene continued his strong play.

Nene had 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a block on 6-of-8 shooting. He looked toast in Games 1 and 2, so his resurgence has been key for the Wizards. Randy Wittman is now almost exclusively relying on lineups with Pierce and Drew Gooden at power forward when his starters are out. The ability to use Nene or Gortat at the 5 is key for Wittman to keep finding success there.

It doesn’t seem like Wall is returning anytime soon. While the Wizards badly wanted a 3-1 lead, they’re very much alive in this tight series. Wittman has done shockingly well managing his lineups in the face of adversity, if not quite as well managing the media. Ramon Sessions has been a capable point guard in Wall’s absence, while Beal may be blossoming into a superstar on the biggest stage. Even if Atlanta takes out this feisty Washington team, the emergence of Porter and breakout of Beal have been enormous developments for the Wizards.

 

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