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Hawks back on winning track with victory over Wizards

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks, who had their 19-game winning streak snapped Monday in New Orleans, got back on the winning track at the expense of the slumping Washington Wizards.

Guard Jeff Teague scored 26 points and handed out eight assists as the Hawks increased their lead over the Wizards in the Southeast Division to 10 games with a 105-96 victory Wednesday night before a sellout crowd of 18,047.

“We came out with a lot of energy and took over in the fourth quarter as we needed to,” Teague said. “We had a tough loss in New Orleans. To come home and get a big win like this, I’m just happy.”

It was the 11th consecutive victory at Philips Arena for the Hawks (41-9) and they are 24-3 at home going into Friday’s game against Golden State in a matchup of the teams with the best records in the NBA.

“It was good to be home,” said center Al Horford, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds against the Wizards. “The crowd was great again.”

John Wall had 24 points and Bradley Beal scored 23, but the Wizards (31-19) lost to the Hawks for the first time this season despite the combined 47 points by their guards.

“It was a heck of a matchup at the point guard,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I thought (Wall) and Jeff Teague were both outstanding.”

The Wizards, who have dropped 13 of their past 14 games in Atlanta, lost their fourth straight game and are 9-11 since starting the season 22-10.

The Wizards, down by 13 points at halftime, took a 74-73 lead on two free throws by Wall late in the third quarter. The Hawks, though, scored eight straight points extending into the fourth quarter and then used a 9-2 run capped by a dunk from forward Mike Scott to go up 90-79.

“We were much better defensively in the fourth,” Horford said.

The Wizards shot just 37.5 percent in the final quarter after outscoring the Hawks 28-18 in the third.

“We battled back, but you can’t have those spurts where the bad play on our part puts us back in a hole,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “A couple of spurts like that I thought were the difference in the game.”

The Hawks made four straight 3-point shots as part of a 16-3 run to close the first quarter and expanded a 29-18 lead after that period to 59-46 at halftime.

“Our defense in the first and fourth quarter is where we want it to be,” Budenholzer.

Atlanta, which led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, was 7-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half after going 6-for-9 in the opening quarter.

The Hawks finished 11-for-25 despite guard Kyle Korver — the NBA 3-point leader — going 1-for-6.

Teague had nine points in the first quarter and eight more in the second, going 6-for-9 from the floor. He also had four assists by halftime.

Horford, who missed his first five shots, scored 11 of his 13 first-half points in the second quarter and had eight rebounds at the break for the Hawks.

Horford took an uncharacteristic 24 shots, making 10.

“Jeff kept feeding me the ball,” Horford said.

Wall, who finished with nine assists, led the Wizards at halftime with 14 points and forward Nene scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half. Center Marcin Gortat had 14 points and nine rebounds.

The Wizards, though, were often stagnant on offense.

“We need to (swing the ball). We did that in the third quarter,” Wittman said. “Until we get out of our heads that we are going to do something on our own… If you have an open shot, take the shot. If you don’t, move the ball.”

“We’re not playing the basketball we’re supposed to play,” Gortat said.

The Hawks had five players score in double figures, which was fitting. Starters Teague, Horford, Korver and forwards Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll shared Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for leading the Hawks to a 17-0 record in January.

NOTES: F Thabo Sefolosha, a key defender off the bench for the Hawks, is out six-to-eight weeks because of a strained right calf suffered Friday. But the Hawks don’t appear likely to make a move before the Feb. 19 trade deadline and risk team chemistry. “You are hesitant to do anything,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. … “I don’t think (the injury) changes much if at all.” … F DeMarre Carroll, who missed two games with a left Achilles strain, returned to the Hawks’ starting lineup after coming off the bench at New Orleans. … Hawks G Shelvin Mack sat out his eighth game with a left calf strain sustained Jan. 17. … The Wizards, who lost to the Hornets 92-88 at home on Monday, play at Charlotte on Thursday to complete a back to back. … After Friday’s home game with Golden State, the Hawks begin a three-game road trip at Memphis on Sunday. They also play at Minnesota and Boston before the All-Star break. … The Hawks and Wizards meet for the fourth and final time in the regular season at Washington on April 12. … The Hawks were 16 of 31 from 3-point range in a 120-89 home victory over the Wizards on Jan. 11.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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