ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young returned after missing one game with the flu and scored 25 points and had 16 assists to help the travel-weary Atlanta Hawks overwhelm shorthanded Washington 134-116 on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Hawks achieved a modest milestone as they prepare for the postseason. The Hawks (41-39) ended a streak of 33 games being within 1 game of .500.
The Nets defeated the Pistons and guaranteed that the Hawks cannot finish as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and will be in the conference play-in tournament for the second straight season. Atlanta holds the No. 8 seed and has a one-game lead over No. 9 Toronto.
The Hawks overcame travel issues that forced the team to fly from Chicago on Wednesday morning after plane difficulties caused the team to stay in Chicago on Tuesday night. Arriving in Atlanta at 2 p.m., the Hawks hit the court five and half hours later.
“It was definitely an unusual schedule,” AJ Griffin said. “Coach (Quin Snyder) handled it well. He set the tone. We knew we just had to play hard and get through the day.”
John Collins had 23 points and put the Hawks in control with a stellar sequence in the third quarter. Collins scooped up a loose ball before throwing down a reverse jam, then buried a 3-pointer on the next possession that gave the Hawks an 85-71 lead.
The Hawks did not trail for the game’s final 29 minutes and shot 43.3 percent from 3-point range.
Wizards center Daniel Gafford had a career-high 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Hawks reserve Jalen Johnson continued his recent string of strong play, matching his career high of 16 points, set the previous night in a win over the Bulls. Johnson also had 8 rebounds.
The Wizards played without out six of their top eight rotation players, including 20-plus point scorers Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma as they play out the string following their elimination from playoff contention.
“I thought offensively, we did some good things,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “We moved the ball with pretty good pace. We were sharing the ball as best we can. We had some good looks that didn’t go down, but I’m more concerned with the defensive stuff.”
Snyder talked about his “deep” bench prior to Wednesday’s game, and the group backed up his assessment right away. Led by Johnson, Atlanta had 15 points from its bench in the first quarter after the Hawks got off to a sluggish start in the opening minutes. Johnson and Griffin finished with 16 points apiece.
“We have a lot of guys who are prepared,” Snyder said. “There are limited minutes and some tough decisions have to be made. One of the tings about our bench is the acceptance of a role. To put the team first is not something you take for granted.”
Snyder inserted guard Aaron Holiday for Young just six minutes into the game. The Hawks responded with a quick burst.
Holiday, who played just two minutes on Tuesday, had eight points and four assists in 21 minutes.
Wizards: First-round pick Johnny Davis started his third straight game and has averaged 18.7 points in his three starts. Davis scored 20 points each of his past two games. The rookie from Wisconsin averaged 11.6 points in 19 G League games and has played 26 games with the Wizards.
Hawks: De’Andre Hunter missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury. Hunter has started 65 games this season. ... Bogdan Bogdanovic did not play due to right knee injury management. He led the Hawks with 26 points in Tuesday night’s win at Chicago. ... The Hawks scored over 100 points for the 55th straight game, extending their team record.
Wizards: Host Miami on Friday night.
Hawks: Host Philadelphia on Friday night.