AP

Beal, Wizards spoil Snyder’s Hawks debut with 119-116 win

Feb 28, 2023, 5:13 AM | Updated: 8:12 pm

Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler walks across the court after the Hawks' loss to the Washington Wiz...

Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler walks across the court after the Hawks' loss to the Washington Wizards an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — Returning to the bench for the first time in 10 months, Quin Snyder quickly got an idea of the challenge he faces with the Atlanta Hawks.

The enigmatic team flopped down the stretch in Snyder’s Atlanta coaching debut, losing 119-116 to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

Bradley Beal scored 37 points and Kyle Kuzma added 28 as the short-handed Wizards stifled Trae Young and the Hawks when it mattered most.

Three drives by the Atlanta star in the final 2 1/2 minutes were swatted away by Delon Wright, Daniel Gafford and Kuzma.

Young made only 1 of 8 shots in the fourth quarter.

Kuzma also had a steal and dunk off an errant pass from Young, giving the Wizards their first lead since the second quarter.

“Down the stretch, I put my hard hat on,” Gafford said. “We really just focused on getting stops at the end.”

Beal hit a pull-up jumper with 35.3 seconds left that pushed the Wizards to a 117-113 lead.

Young, who paced Atlanta with 31 points, finally got one to go with a contested 3-pointer that pulled the Hawks within a single point with 30.6 remaining.

But Beal went to work again. With the shot clock running down, he drove on Dejounte Murray, deking left before cutting right to bank in his final points of the night.

“A thing of art,” Gafford marveled.

It was just enough. Young had a couple of chances to send the game to overtime, getting the ball back after a long rebound off a missed 3-pointer, but his second attempt beyond the arc also rimmed out.

“We did a good job of staying resilient,” Beal said. “We just find a way to win.”

The Hawks hope Snyder can provide a spark for an underachieving squad that seems headed for a second straight appearance in the play-in tournament.

For his first night, at least, it was just another exasperating loss.

“I still getting to know the team,” said Snyder, who was officially hired 48 hours earlier. “You saw some of that tonight.”

With injured Kristaps Porzingis watching from bench, the Wizards knocked off the Hawks with essentially a two-man team at the offensive end.

Gafford scored 13 points and was the only other Washington player in double figures.

Snyder spent eight seasons as Utah’s coach before resigning last June after the Jazz were eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs.

The 56-year-old Snyder says he left coaching to spend more time with his family, but the chance to lead the Hawks lured him back to the sideline sooner than expected.

He’s got his work cut out for him.

“We’ll continue to build on it, work on it,” he said.

Atlanta fired Nate McMillan after limping into the All-Star break with a 29-30 record — far below what was expected from a team that reached the Eastern Conference final just two seasons ago.

Joe Prunty guided the Hawks to a pair of victories as interim coach before Snyder reached agreement on a five-year deal. Prunty remains with the team as Snyder’s top assistant.

STANDINGS CHECK

Atlanta is eighth in the East, remaining 3 1/2 games behind Brooklyn for a top-six finish that would avoid the play-in tournament.

Washington moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Bulls for the final play-in berth.

TIP-INS

Wizards: Beal made 17 of 30 shots and also had seven assists, while Kuzma was 10 of 26 from the field. … Washington snapped a two-game losing streak. … Porzingis (sore left knee) and Monte Morris (lower back soreness) were both out for the second game in a row. … Gafford had 12 rebounds and Deni Avdija pulled down 13 as the Wizards controlled the boards 48-42.

Hawks: Young committed a silly blunder at the end of the first half, needlessly fouling Wright as he threw up a desperation heave from half-court just ahead of the buzzer. After reviewing the replay, the officials ruled the foul occurred 0.9 seconds ahead of the buzzer. Wright knocked down all three free throws to cut Atlanta’s lead to 56-52 at the break. … Atlanta briefly had a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter — the largest margin for either team. … Seven Hawks scored in double figures, including Clint Capela with 13 points to go along with 15 rebounds.

UP NEXT

Wizards: Return to D.C. for the start of a three-game homestand against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday night. Those same teams will meet again Saturday.

Hawks: Wrap up a five-game homestand wrapped around the All-Star break when they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Atlanta hasn’t played a road game since Feb. 13.

___

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Beal, Wizards spoil Snyder’s Hawks debut with 119-116 win