Wizards-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards each made headlines after their first game of the season, but for much different reasons.

After a dominating victory, Atlanta opens its home schedule Wednesday night looking for its seventh consecutive win at Philips Arena over the drama-plagued Wizards.

The Hawks (1-0) wasted little time in proving they plan to contend in the Eastern Conference, crushing New Jersey 106-70 in their opener Tuesday.

Vladimir Radmanovic led six players in double figures with 17 points as Atlanta led 28-11 after the first quarter and never trailed.

"I'm really pleased with the team effort," coach Larry Drew said. "Having six guys in doubles is a great sign of playing like a team. We've been preaching since camp that we have to play together.''

Tracy McGrady scored 12 points in his first game for the Hawks, who began a stretch of nine games in 12 days due to the lockout-shortened 66-game season.

"This was big,'' McGrady said. "We wanted to start out the season the right way, especially with the amount of games we have (coming up)."

Atlanta hasn't given up fewer points in a regular season game since a 76-65 win at Cleveland on May 2, 1999.

"We can cause some problems for teams defensively,'' said Al Horford, who had eight points. "We have that ability to disrupt people. Josh (Smith) is so quick and Marvin (Williams) and I are so long. Guys can go flying around the floor defending shots.''

Washington also built a large lead against the Nets, but couldn't hold it. The Wizards blew a 21-point cushion in Monday's 90-84 loss in their opener.

Following the game, Andray Blatche voiced his displeasure with how he was utilized after shooting 5 for 13 and scoring only 11 points.

"You can't keep having me pick-and-pop and shooting jump shots. Give me the ball in the paint. That's where I'm most effective at," Blatche said. "I've been saying that since training camp: I need the ball in the paint. I don't want to be the pick-and-pop guy that I used to be. It's not working for me."

Coach Flip Saunders said he wants Blatche to talk to him about his role, but he's not forcing anything upon him.

"He also has to understand that just because you get (the ball) at 17 feet, you don't have to shoot it either," Saunders said. "I'm not twisting his arm to do that.''

Regardless of where Blatche or anyone else is shooting from, second-year guard John Wall just wants to make sure Washington is passing the ball and not settling for the 1-on-1 situations it did against the Nets.

"We have nobody on our team that's THAT great,'' Wall said.

The Wizards (0-1) must quickly get over their petty problems and focus on an Atlanta team they haven't had much success against in recent years.

Washington's lone victory in the series since January 2008 came in the most recent meeting, when it earned a 115-83 win April 9 at home behind a game-high 23 points from Blatche and 19 from Wall.

The Hawks had won the previous 12 meetings, holding the Wizards to fewer than 100 points in each contest. Atlanta has won six straight in the series at home by an average of 12.0 points, outrebounding Washington by 8.9 per game.

McGrady's 24.5-point career average against the Wizards is his highest against any team.

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