WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 27 points and Montrezl Harrell added 25 with 13 rebounds to lift the Washington Wizards to a 122-111 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.
The Wizards continued their impressive start under new coach Wes Unseld Jr., winning this time without new point guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Washington rested Dinwiddie, who missed almost all of last season because of a knee injury, on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards were also without Daniel Gafford because of a thigh issue.
Washington is 4-1 for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
“There’s that air of confidence,” Unseld said. “It’s not arrogance, but we’ve put in a lot of time, a lot of work, and we have a ton of work to do. It’s good to be in the position we’re in, the fact that we’ve started the way we have, but we’re not done.”
Harrell had his second straight impressive game in Gafford’s absence. He had 25 points and 11 rebounds in a win at Boston on Wednesday night, when Gafford played only seven minutes.
The Hawks cut a 20-point second-half deficit to five in the fourth quarter, but Harrell dunked off a pass from Beal, and then a dunk by Beal made it 115-106.
“I thought they had control right from the start,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “We really never established that we could guard this team, and it was pretty much playing downhill all night long.”
Washington led 64-55 at halftime and extended its advantage to 20 during the third quarter. Atlanta actually shot 54.5% on the night, but the Wizards’ advantages in free throws (17-9) and 3-pointers (13-6) were too much for the Hawks to overcome.
“We gave up 68 points in the paint, so that’s not ideal,” Unseld said. “Most nights, not a winning proposition, but being able to defend the 3-point line as we did was big.”
John Collins led Atlanta with 28 points on 14-of-16 shooting, and Trae Young added 15 points and 13 assists.
Harrell came to the Wizards along with Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope when Washington traded Russell Westbrook to the Lakers during the offseason. All three newcomers have contributed. Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points each Thursday.
Unseld, of course, is perhaps the most significant new arrival.
“He lets us rock out out there,” Kuzma said. “As long as you’re playing defense, doing the right things, you’ve got a lot of freedom out there.”
The Hawks, who won at New Orleans the night before, took an early 16-10 lead against Washington but couldn’t build on it.
Officials spent plenty of time handing out technical fouls. Young, Collins and De’Andre Hunter each received one for Atlanta, and Davis Bertans and Harrell did for Washington. The Hawks also received a delay of game technical.
Young was frustrated afterward with the officiating.
“You’ve got to fight through it and play through it,” he said. “Obviously, you’re not going to change refs, as much as some of us would like.”
Hawks: Cam Reddish scored 20 points and Bogdan Bogdanovic added 14.
Wizards: Beal shot 11 of 26 from the field, his first time all season shooting over 40%. His 27 points were a season high, and he managed to make a 3-pointer after going 0 of 6 from long distance against Boston.
Hawks: At Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Wizards: Host Boston on Saturday.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports