In both of their first game of the NBA regular season, the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Washington Wizards by a score of 114-99 thanks to a new free agent addition, a remaining underrated superstar and a surprise bench player, as reported by ESPN.
Atlanta Hawks starters
When the Atlanta Hawks signed Dwight Howard in free agency, they were hoping that the All-Star center would be rejuvenated by finally being able to play in his hometown. If his first game is any indication, then the homecoming should be a good one. Howard only put up 11 points against Marcin Gortat, but they were efficiently scored. He dominated the board with 19 rebounds and also chipped in three blocks.
Paul Millsap is far from being a household name, but the Atlanta Hawks know how valuable he is. Against the Washington Wizards, Millsap put up numbers worthy of an NBA MVP. He put up 28 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and a block. Millsap was able to score inside while also hitting three of the six shots that he took beyond the three-point line.
Dennis Schroder wanted to become a starter really badly, so the Atlanta Hawks got rid of Jeff Teague. The young point guard managed to score 14 points efficiently, but he only had two assists to go with four turnovers. The Hawks are going to need him to become a better play maker if they wish to make noise in the NBA Playoffs.
Kyle Korver dished out four assists, but he had a quiet night overall. Kent Bazemore struggled with his shot, making just one of the seven shots that he took. The two of them have the faith of Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, but they need to start looking over their shoulders if their production remains at this level.
Atlanta Hawks backups
Tim Hardaway, Jr. has yet to exactly light the NBA on fire since joining the Atlanta Hawks, but he showed flashes of potential against the Washington Wizards. Coming off the bench, the second-generation player produced 21 points by hitting eight of his 13 shots. If Hardaway, Jr. can consistently provide a scoring boost like that, then he’ll be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.
Backup swing man Thabo Sefolosha played like a man that wanted his starting spot back. In addition to chipping in 13 points off the bench, he also provided seven rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Those numbers would be excellent for someone that is in the starting lineup.
Malcolm Delaney provided quality minutes behind Dennis Schroder and provided five assists. Mike Muscala provided front court muscle off the bench with three blocks and two steals.
Atlanta Hawks reserves
Lottery pick Taurean Prince was only given four minutes of playing time in his first game. DeAndre Bembry and Kris Humphries were given a couple of minutes. None of the three did anything against the Washington Wizards for the Atlanta Hawks coaching staff to consider moving any of them into the rotation.
Washington Wizards starters
John Wall and Bradley Beal are supposed to be one of the best back courts in the NBA. They even tried to downplay the on-court friction between them. However, if the Washington Wizards are to make some noise in the Eastern Conference, they’re going to need to produce more than 25 points combined. Wall did have 10 assists and four rebounds, so that helps a little.
Markieff Morris provided 22 points, and Marcin Gortat pulled down 11 rebounds. However, the two of them were not able to contain Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, which made it harder for the Washington Wizards to keep up with the Atlanta Hawks.
Otto Porter, Jr. quietly had a good night with 10 points and six rebounds.
Washington Wizards backups
Andrew Nicholson had a solid night for the Washington Wizards. The backup center had nine points and seven rebounds. If he can keep that production up, then Nicholson can take some more minutes away from Marcin Gortat.
Washington Wizards’ head coach gave a decent amount of playing time to Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, and Kelly Oubre, Jr., but none of them really made enough of an impact against the Atlanta Hawks.
Washington Wizards reserves
Daniel Ochefu, Jason Smith, and Tomas Satoransky provided spot minutes for the Washington Wizards. Nothing worthy of note, so they won’t be affecting the rotation this week.
Sheldon McClellan showed some spark in the four minutes that he played. The backup swing man produced seven points and two steals in the short period of time that he was on the court, so he might be able to catch the attention of the Washington Wizards coaching staff.
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]