WASHINGTON — Guard John Wall scored 25 points and forward Drew Gooden had 16 points as the Washington Wizards fended off the reeling and shorthanded Atlanta Hawks 101-97 victory on Saturday night.
Center Marcin Gortat had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards (38-35), winners of two straight after dropping four of five. Sixth in the Eastern Conference, Washington can officially reach the postseason for the first time since 2008 with a New York Knicks loss at the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
The Wizards moved within one game of the idle and fifth place Brooklyn Nets with nine games remaining. Guard Jeff Teague scored 19 points and forward Paul Millsap added 17 points
for the Hawks (31-41). Atlanta, now 1 1/2 games ahead of the Knicks for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot, has lost six straight since Feb. 1.
Washington went from trailing by nine points in the third quarter to leading by 10 with 2:38 remaining in the game, but Atlanta scored the next eight points. Fouled shooting a 3-pointer, guard Lou Williams sank three free throws. Teague then converted a 3-point play after Wall missed two free throws.
Gortat missed a layup on Washington’s next possession, but then blocked Teague’s attempted game-tying shot with 12 seconds left. Following a timeout, Teague missed a layup and Gooden closed the scoring by hitting two free throws with 7.8 seconds remaining.
Following Friday’s 91-78 victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers, the Wizards trailed Atlanta by 10 points in the first quarter and 63-54 early in the third. Wall then keyed a 21-7 run, scoring 13 points over the final 7:16 of the period. His jumper and 3-pointer put Washington up for good at 75-70.
The All-Star point guard’s 3-pointer gave the Wizards their largest lead at 97-87 with 3:51 remaining.
Without Kyle Korver (back) and DeMarre Carroll (flu) available, Atlanta trotted out its 22nd different starting lineup of the season. That unit included swingman Cartier Martin, who scored 13 points, and guard Shelvin Mack. The Hawks finished 9-for-31 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Six Wizards scored in double figures before the crowd of 17,996. Guard Bradley Beal had 14 points, forward Trevor Ariza added 13 and guard Andre Miller scored 10.
The Hawks led 21-11 in the first quarter and entered the halftime locker room up 52-50. Three-pointers from Martin, Teague and Millsap inside the opening four minutes of the third quarter pushed the Hawks’ lead to nine.
NOTES: The Hawks shot 55 percent from the field in the first half. … Entering Saturday, Wizards G Bradley Beal has a streak of 15 straight games without making at least half of his shots. Beal ranks second behind G John Wall on Washington in scoring. … Atlanta G Shelvin Mack, selected 34th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Wizards, made his 11th start this season for Atlanta. … The Hawks return to Atlanta to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, the start of a three-game homestand. Washington heads on the road to face the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.
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