- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ATLANTA | The Washington Wizards, fresh off a thrilling comeback victory against the Indiana Pacers, headed into Atlanta on Tuesday hoping to put together a two-game winning streak for only the second time this season.

But whatever magic the Wizards worked in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game was nowhere to be seen, and the Wizards got throttled 111-90 by the Hawks.

And if the loss weren’t bad enough, the Wizards (11-41) - who entered the game with five injured players - departed Philips Arena with six after center Darius Songaila left the game in the second quarter with a bruised left elbow. Songaila, who had started eight straight games at center, didn’t return and is listed as day-to-day.

Against the Pacers on Sunday, Caron Butler scored his team’s final 15 points, including a game-winning buzzer-beater, as the Wizards ended a three-game losing streak.

Instead of taking momentum from that victory, the Wizards trailed Atlanta (30-21) from start to finish Tuesday. Led by Joe Johnson’s 22 points, the Hawks boasted six double-digit scorers, grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, racked up 28 assists and hit 10 3-pointers.

The Wizards, meanwhile, were led by Butler, who scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Rookie JaVale McGee tied a career high for points (18) and rebounds (11). And Antawn Jamison added 17 points and 12 rebounds, recording his 250th career double-double.

With the loss, the Wizards, who committed 18 turnovers that led to 20 Atlanta points, fell to 0-3 on the season against the Hawks and 0-11 in the Southeast Division.

“We weren’t good enough. Didn’t play well enough. Weren’t good enough from the start,” Wizards coach Ed Tapscott said. “This is one of those games where you take your hat to the other team. They came with exactly what they needed to play with: energy, focus. They rocked us back on our heels, and once they knew they had us, they kept pummeling us, and we could never get our balance back. … They played the way we should have.”

Josh Smith and Al Horford, who missed the first two games against he Wizards, both were back Tuesday but weren’t major factors, recording eight and six points, respectively. Instead, it was Johnson and Bibby (12 points, six assists) and reserve players Flip Murray (16 points), Maurice Evans (14) and Zaza Pachulia (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Acie Law (11 points, seven assists) who did Washington in.

The Wizards shot 38 percent from the field and fell behind 26-17 after one quarter.

The Wizards pulled within six in the first four minutes of the second, but then the Hawks went on a 16-0 run to take a 47-25 lead with 3:31 left on the clock. During the span, the Wizards missed seven straight shots.

“I don’t want to call it basketball - we just don’t play very smart,” Jamison said. “After you miss one or two shots, and they’re all jump shots, eventually you should know you’ve got to drive the ball. That’s what we stressed, called a timeout and said, ‘Guys, we have got to drive the ball. We can’t continue to take first-side jump shots.’ And that’s what we continued to do and continued to dig ourselves into a hole.”

During that stretch came the play that sums up the Wizards’ season. With about 3 1/2 minutes left in the quarter, Songaila ran into Juan Dixon, who had the ball. Songaila injured his elbow, Dixon turned the ball over and Bibby scored to extend the lead to 47-25.

The Wizards broke the drought when Jamison made a pair of free throws with just more than three minutes left in the quarter, and he then made the team’s first field goal in six minutes to make the score 47-29.

Atlanta went into halftime holding a 53-37 lead. The Hawks regained a 20-point lead with 5:16 left in the third quarter, and the Wizards never pulled any closer than 16 the rest of the game.

It was the first game of a back-to-back for the Wizards before the All-Star break. From Atlanta, the Wizards flew to Charlotte, N.C., where on Wednesday they face the Charlotte Bobcats.

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