Paul Millsap, Dennis Schröder star as Hawks wallop Wizards in wire-to-wire Game 3 win

Through two games against the Washington Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks seemed bereft of answers for the high-octane backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and the interior muscle of Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris. Very early in Saturday’s Game 3, though, the Hawks came up with an answer familiar to many teams who find themselves staring down the barrel of an 0-3 deficit: punch ’em in the mouth early and don’t stop until you’re back in the series.

[Follow Ball Don’t Lie on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr]

Mike Budenholzer’s club opened the game with a furious flurry, taking a 19-4 lead five minutes into the game behind the shot- and playmaking of point guard Dennis Schröder and All-Star forward Paul Millsap. They’d never look back, leading wire-to-wire in a 116-98 win that got the Hawks on the board in this 4-vs.-5 matchup, and reduced Washington’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1. Game 4 tips at Philips Arena at 8 p.m. ET on Monday.

Millsap continued his strong play from Game 2, leading the Hawks with 29 points on 12-for-20 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal in 32 1/2 minutes in a brilliant all-around performance:

After Wizards star John Wall got his “revenge” on Schröder for a 2015 slight, the German point guard answered back on Saturday, using his quickness to get to the rim and making the Wizards pay for ducking under ball screens by raining down 3-pointers on his way to 27 points on 10-for-22 shooting to go with nine assists, two rebounds and one steal in 31 strong minutes on the ball.

Rookie Taurean Prince continued his strong postseason debut, scoring 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting with four rebounds in 28 minutes for the Hawks, who outscored Washington 60-34 in the paint and led by as many as 25 in a comfortable, confident performance.

Coming off two intense, physical games marked by discussion of MMA and even “double MMA”-style play, Atlanta turned in a first-round knockout in Game 3. The Hawks attacked early and often, inside and out, knocking down 15 of their 23 shots from the field in the opening quarter, including a 5-for-9 mark from 3-point range, to hang 38 points on the Wizards defense.

They clamped down on the other end, too. Wall continued to torch the Hawks, getting to the basket and the foul line for 14 points in the first frame, including two very cool and very loud ones:

But none of Wall’s running buddies could match his stride. The rest of the Wizards contributed just six points on 3-for-18 in the first quarter, with Beal — who had averaged 26.5 points through the first two games of the series — missing five of his first six shots.

“The key to the defense, coming into the game, was to give them more pressure, be more physical with them,” Millsap said during a postgame interview on TNT. “I think our guards did a great job of getting up on Bradley Beal and making it tough on him.”

Beal never got untracked on Saturday, going 6-for-20 from the floor and 0-for-6 from 3-point range for 12 points in 35 1/2 disappointing minutes. He was far from the only Wizard who couldn’t locate the touch, though.

Morris scored nine points on 4-for-14 shooting, and Millsap absolutely ate his lunch on both ends of the court. Gortat turned in a whisper-quiet two points on just four field-goal attempts. Otto Porter Jr., one of this NBA season’s breakout contributors, managed just seven points on seven shots. Key reserves Kelly Oubre Jr. and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to equal Beal’s 6-for-20 mark. It was ugly, my friends. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

Wall continued his red-hot start to the postseason, scoring 29 points on 10-for-12 shooting while adding seven assists — somehow, despite every other Wiz starter being ostensibly allergic to made baskets — four rebounds, one steal in 31 1/2 minutes. Washington briefly flirted with making a game of it late, with backup point guard Brandon Jennings keying an early fourth-quarter run that got the Wizards within a dozen with 7:56 left in the final quarter. But Schröder answered with a floater, a pair of free throws and a dish for a Millsap and-one layup that pushed the lead back to 19 with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, and that was all she wrote.

Nothing else went right for a Washington team that played like it knew it had a 2-0 lead and the best player in the series, and like that meant the Hawks were just going to roll over.

They didn’t, though, and while they’re still one game down without home-court advantage, and still subject to an ugly historical record in the predicament in which they find themselves …

… the Hawks now have definitive proof that they can get the job done against these Wizards, even if plenty of work still lies ahead.

“It’s one win. It’s one win,” Millsap said after the game. “It’s one win under our belt. Before you get that second one, you’ve got to get the first one. We’re excited about this win, but we’re a long way from finished.”

Dennis Schröder stepped up and went toe-to-toe with John Wall in a big Game 3 win. (Getty Images)
Dennis Schröder stepped up and went toe-to-toe with John Wall in a big Game 3 win. (Getty Images)

– – – – – – –

Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!