- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 11, 2017

Only the win against Sacramento was easier.

Saturday night, the Wizards controlled Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder, received another strong offensive night from Markieff Morris (18 points) and was able to rest their starters.

On to the three points:

Schroder under control. Atlanta’s point guard was just 2-for-16 trying to help a benign Atlanta offense survive on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards knew that Schroder was the key. Paul Millsap, who facilitated so much for the Hawks, is in Denver now. Dwight Howard, who was at least an enormous screening presence, is in Charlotte. That leaves the Hawks with little to choose from in their starting lineup when they search for offense outside of Schroder. Last year in the first round of the playoffs, Washington decided to throw its help toward Millsap first, allowing Schroder 3-point shots or more room to operate. If he scored, Wizards coach Scott Brooks said Saturday, so be it. He did so effectively. Schroder averaged 24.7 points per game in the series after shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from behind the 3-point line. He played so well, that Atlanta’s decision to keep him and not Jeff Teague seemed even better than first thought. Schroder has also played well so far this season — a 22.21 PER coming into Saturday — but Washington was able to control his drives Saturday. Schroder scored seven points and committed four turnovers.

All-bench unit prospers. You read that right. The group that has struggled this season and last when on the floor without a starting player in the mix took a nine-point lead and pushed it to 19 points. Tim Frazier, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre Jr. (18 points in an active 22:42), Mike Scott and Ian Mahinmi helped the Wizards to 37 fourth-quarter points. The starters watched with glee. Brooks, who has been asked multiple times in the last three days about his rotations, watched with satisfaction. Brooks added an interesting comment about Oubre, who found most of his points on cuts, rim runs or hustle plays where the ball came back to him, which often to led fouls and, ultimately, eight of his 18 points at the free throw line: “Moving, being disciplined on our offense and cutting at the appropriate times and attacking,” Brooks said. “You know, he’s a great runner when he wants to run. We just got to keep him running because of his ability to finish but it all comes down…I mean I’ve been with him for a year. Between [being] solid defensively, he always has great games offensively and the game rewards him that way. [Saturday], was one of his best defensive games. He didn’t gamble, he didn’t get beat on backdoors. He just played solid basketball and he was terrific on offense.”

A day of rest, again. The Wizards caught the Hawks at home on the second night of a back-to-back. The Los Angeles Lakers were in the District on Thursday on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wizards are yet to play on back-to-back nights this season. The first time they do so is in a little more than a week, when they have a road back-to-back set in Toronto on Nov. 19 and at Milwaukee the next night. To close the month, they are in Minnesota on Nov. 28 and Philadelphia on Nov. 29. Until then, the schedule continues to be in their favor despite an early trip to the West Coast. Washington has another day off before hosting Sacramento on Monday (this current four-game homestand looked like a pending sweep before the Wizards didn’t guard Dallas). Even December is spread out: They play just one set of back-to-back games. By the end of the calendar year, both West Coast trips will be done. Starting the season early to make the schedule more manageable has been a large benefit for the Wizards, so far.

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