Washington will attempt to duplicate its earlier defensive effort against high-scoring Atlanta guard Trae Young when the Wizards visit the Hawks on Saturday night.
The Wizards found a way to slow Young in the first meeting between the two teams on Jan. 10 in Washington. Two nights after Young had gone for 42 points and a triple-double in a loss to the Houston Rockets, the Wizards held him to 19 and saw him go 0-for-7 on 3-point attempts. The Wizards won that game 111-101.
“Most of his shots come from 3s,” said Washington guard Gary Payton II, who drew the defensive assignment. “That’s how he gets going. We just tried to limit his 3s and make him take deep 3s. That’s what we did.”
Young admitted that Payton was a good defender and said, “He’s obviously known for his defense. A lot of shots were self-inflicted. I couldn’t knock down shots.”
Washington is coming off a 124-112 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. It was the team’s second win in three games and broke a five-game road losing streak.
The Wizards were without Bradley Beal in the first game against the Hawks, one of seven games he missed with right leg soreness. He has been hot in the first two games of the current road trip, scoring 38 at Miami and 36 against the Cavs. He is 31 of 46 from the field in the last two games.
“That’s one thing Coach (Scott) Brooks and I say a lot,” Beal said. “Your stats are going to level out at the end of the year. Shots will fall, shots won’t fall, but everything will level out in the end. I know I’m a good shooter.”
Young is a good shooter, too. The second-year guard is averaging 29.1 points and scored 26, with a season-high 16 assists — surpassing the 1,000 career mark — in Friday’s 140-111 loss to Oklahoma City. He showed no repercussions from the right thigh contusion that forced him to miss Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
Young was the leading vote-getter for the NBA All-Star Game among Eastern Conference guards. He became Atlanta’s first rookie or second-year player selected to the team since John Drew in 1975-76.
Atlanta forward John Collins scored 28 points against the Thunder and has totaled 61 points in the last two games. But Collins had his streak of consecutive games with a blocked shot end at nine.
Washington has labored much of the season with injuries. The Wizards have a number of players on minute restrictions and others who are out, starting with guard John Wall, who is missing the entire season to rehab his left Achilles.
Against the Cavaliers, Washington was able to get 15 minutes from Anzejs Pasecniks, who had missed two games with a sprained left ankle. The club was still without Rui Hachimura (groin injury), Garrison Mathews (sprained right ankle) and Moritz Wagner (sprained left ankle).
Atlanta could again be without guard DeAndre’ Bembry. He underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right hand to address nerve inflammation. Bembry, who averages 5.8 points and 3.5 rebounds, was not with the team on Friday and will be reassessed before Sunday’s game.
–Field Level Media