ATLANTA — Jawing incessantly and playing with plenty of bravado, the Washington Wizards hardly look like a .500 team.
John Wall is certainly doing his part to lift them to the playoffs.
Wall scored 27 points and dished out 14 assists, while Bradley Beal chipped in with 25 points to lead another dazzling offensive display for the surging Wizards, who cooled off the Atlanta Hawks with a 117-102 victory Monday night.
Washington won its season-high fifth in a row, getting back to .500 and staying in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while snapping Atlanta’s five-game winning streak.
“This probably is the best stretch we’ve ever played, to be honest,” Wall said.
He’ll get no argument from the Hawks. Wall posted his 43rd double-double of the season, darting through an Atlanta defense that had little chance of stopping him inside or out.
He finished 3-of-5 from 3-point range and set up plenty of open jumpers for his teammates, including Beal, who missed only once in six attempts beyond the arc.
Overall, the Wizards shot nearly 51 percent from the field, knocked down 13-of-25 from 3-point range and got double-figure scoring from every starter. Otto Porter had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“I kind of got into a rhythm and we got some defensive stops,” said Wall, who is averaging 22.2 points and 12.4 assists over the past five games. “We didn’t turn the ball over a lot.”
Indeed, the Wizards had just nine turnovers – a far cry from the season-high 25 they committed in their first meeting against the Hawks back in November, a 114-99 loss.
The Hawks had won eight of their past nine games, pushing to 12 games above .500 for the first time and finally showing the form that carried them to the best record in the Eastern Conference a year ago.
But this was a step back for a team that has struggled to find the consistency it showed last season.
“It wasn’t one of our better nights,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’m sure they had a lot to do with that.”
Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 23 points. Atlanta kept up with the Wizards over the first three quarters, only to struggle offensively in the final period. Atlanta made just 7 of 16 shots, missed all five of its attempts beyond the arc, and turned it over five times.
“They were very aggressive,” Hawks center Al Horford said. “They were all over us, a lot of pressure.”
Washington remained 1 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the East after Chicago and Milwaukee both won. Still, the Wizards are feeling a lot better about their chances.
“We know our backs are against the wall with what we’re trying to accomplish,” Wall said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding and competing.”
DOWN GOES SCHRODER
Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder had a scare in the final period when he went down hard attempting to drive to the basket, tweaking his left ankle.
As Schroder rubbed his ankle and two teammates reached down to help him up, the Wizards quickly inbounded the ball and forced Atlanta to foul at the other end to get a stoppage.
The Atlanta bench leaped up in unison to complain, while Schroder finally was able to hobble to the bench. He was not believed to be seriously hurt.
“By the letter of the law, the letter of the rule, the referee doesn’t have to stop play when a player is injured,” Budenholzer said. “But it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the spirit of the sport, to make people keep playing when a guy is down.”
Wizards: Averaging 110.6 points a game during its winning streak. … Washington had three other four-game winning streaks this season. … Marcin Gortat added 15 points and Markieff Morris 14. … Outrebounded the Hawks 44-33.
Hawks: Failed to match its second-longest winning streak of the season. … After two straight games with more than 20 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. had another good night – 16 points and 4-of-5 shooting beyond the arc. … Kyle Korver, on the other hand, took only two shots and finished with three points. “We’ve got a find a way to get Kyle cleaner, more free,” Budenholzer said. … The setback snapped a streak of six straight wins at Philips Arena. … Paul Millsap‘s run of three straight double-doubles ended with 13 points and only two rebounds.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/paul-newberry .