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Wizards fade away as Trae Young takes control in Hawks’ win

What to know about Washington’s 118-103 loss

Hawks guard Trae Young erupted for 30 points as Atlanta shut down the Wizards on Wednesday. (John Bazemore/AP)
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ATLANTA — Everyone at State Farm Arena could see it coming at the end of the third quarter Wednesday night, after Atlanta’s Trae Young took hold of the game. The point guard piled three-pointers on top of driving layups on top of free throws until, suddenly, he had reeled off 14 points in a little more than two minutes — all with icy precision. When Ish Smith knocked him to the floor for his final trip to the free throw line in the quarter, Young stayed there for a handful of performative push-ups.

Young’s third-quarter eruption put the Washington Wizards away for good, making the difference in a 118-103 Atlanta win.

Washington (35-45) overcame some early defensive errors with a big night from Kristaps Porzingis, but Young’s huge third quarter fueled a 30-point night that settled the matter. The Wizards’ defense couldn’t produce the requisite stops in the fourth quarter, and their offense ran out of steam against their second straight opponent vying for seeding in the play-in tournament.

“He’s a master of drawing contact, getting to the line,” Wizards Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said of Young. “Once he sees that ball go in, he’s made a couple free throws, he kind of spearheaded that run in the third.”

Washington had eight turnovers in the first quarter that led to a nine-point deficit, which Porzingis erased with a couple of easy three-pointers.

Chemistry, for the first time since the beginning of the season, isn’t the Wizards’ problem — but they did stumble in the second half. They had 18 assists before the break and just six after in the face of the Hawks’ switching on defense.

“Atlanta got more physical on the defensive end, they made us play one-on-one, they made us play down the shot clock and we thrive when we can move the ball and play with freedom,” forward Corey Kispert said. “They were just more physical and took us out of it.”

They were outclassed Wednesday without Bradley Beal (wrist surgery) and Kyle Kuzma (knee tendinitis). Porzingis had 26 points and tied a career high with 18 rebounds — another piece of progress heading into the offseason — and Kispert and Daniel Gafford had 12 points each.

Young added 11 assists for a double-double. Danilo Gallinari was one of a couple of Hawks players who feasted at the three-point line; he had 26 points — including four makes from deep — and grabbed 10 rebounds. Clint Capela added 19 points.

Washington has two games left in the season.

Here’s what else to know from Wednesday’s game:

Perimeter Porzingis

The Hawks had no answer for Porzingis in the second quarter, when the big man hit back-to-back three-pointers to keep the game from getting out of control early. The 7-foot-3 Latvian used his length well against an Atlanta roster that had trouble matching up — Gallinari and Capela, the Hawks’ tallest big men, are 6-10.

“He’s taken some of those shots throughout his tenure, and when they’re in rhythm — great. At times, he’s missed some of those early, so to see him make a few and put a string together I think is great,” Unseld said. “Now he’s got his legs under him, sees the ball go in. Once again, it’s going to entice the defense to press up, and it opens the floor for everybody.”

Even more heartening for Washington was that he performed so well on the second night of a back-to-back. Porzingis had still been working up to what he deemed full strength as recently as last week but said his body felt even better Wednesday than it did Tuesday.

Perimeter defense

The Wizards’ perimeter defense faltered again against the second-best three-point shooting team in the league. Atlanta hit 16 of 39 attempts from deep.

Hachimura is hot and cold

Rui Hachimura was assertive in asking for the ball and trying to create his own shots, and it paid off with nine points. His shooting wasn’t great — just 4 for 12, including missing all five of his three-point attempts. It was an unusually off night from three for Hachimura, who entered shooting 46.8 percent from deep.

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