ATLANTA — Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal could tell early in the first quarter of Wednesday's game at Atlanta that the rebuilding Hawks had no answer for him.
"Just being confident, just being aggressive," he said. "Getting to the free-throw line helped me out a lot. Being aggressive in that aspect. Just pretty much taking what they gave me."
Beal scored 36 points — his season high — and Otto Porter Jr. added 20 with 11 rebounds as the Wizards won 131-117 for their third straight victory.
Wizards star guard John Wall missed the game for personal reasons, but Washington still finished with 35 assists, the team's high this season.
Beal, with nine assists and nine rebounds, was a matchup nightmare for the Hawks, who began the night with the NBA's third-worst record and took their fourth straight loss. John Collins finished with 14 rebounds and a career-high 26 points, and Kent Bazemore added 22 points for Atlanta.
Rookie guard Kevin Huerter was the first Hawks player assigned to guard Beal, and he was replaced early. Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce tried several combinations, but nothing worked for long.
Beal drew Collins, a 6-foot-10 forward, out to guard him in the third quarter and quickly cut past him. Rookie point guard Trae Young closed in the lane too late as Beal drove for a layup and a 19-point lead.
Beal took the ball to the rim often enough to get to the foul line and hit 10 of 13 free throws. The Wizards finished 27-for-32 at the line.
"We have to play fast, and that was easier because we got stops defensively," Beal said. "We were able to get out in transition and get some easy ones. We just continued to move the ball and share it."
The Hawks used a 45-point third period, their highest-scoring quarter of the season, to help them pull within seven in the first minute of the fourth on Bazemore's jumper.
Young had a chance to make it a three-point game but missed a wild layup attempt at the 9:48 mark, and Tomas Satorsky followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead to eight.
Young, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, took a hard spill 30 seconds later as he tried to shoot a 3 at the top of the arc, falling into Austin Rivers on the way down and getting his feet knocked out from under him. Young landed on his back and elbows and stayed down before getting up to make one of three free throws.
"I didn't even see what happened," Young said. "I was just in the air and I fell. My arms were numb, and it was hard to move. I was pressing on my free throws, pushing the ball instead of shooting it."
Beal answered with a runner and hit a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to push the lead back to double digits.
"He's so crafty," Young said. "He showed that tonight. With John being out, they were able to use him a lot more."
Rivers started in Wall's spot and had nine points, seven assists and seven rebounds.