This is why we love playoff basketball. The Wizards blow a 21 point fourth quarter lead but it’s you guessed it, Paul Pierce who banks in a jumper as time expires as the Wizards win 103-101. Nene, Porter, and Beal led the Wizards scoring 17 points apiece. Marcin Gortat and Paul Pierce also chipped in with 14 and 13 points respectively with no bucket bigger than the last.
The Hawks came out pretty sluggish to start this one. Maybe they relaxed a bit because they knew well in advance that John Wall wasn’t going to play or maybe it was because they were deflated knowing that Paul Milsap would be limited due to flu-like symptoms as they quickly found themselves down 11-4.
Nene who was an afterthought for the first two games was very aggressive and reinserted himself back into the series. He scored his first bucket of the series on a swooping drive to the hole and instantly, he had his confidence back. The big Brazilian backed it up by attacking the hole and also hitting a nice outside jump shot scoring eight points in the first quarter.
The Wizards were up 28-18 after one and you could feel this team’s confidence even without their all star, John Wall.
The Wizards got some great contributions off the bench particularly from Otto Porter. Porter played a game high 40 minutes for the Wiz and finished with a stat line of 17 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.
Will Bynum also got some PT tonight due to the absence of John Wall and made the most of it. Bynum came right in a hit a corner three to stretch the Wizards lead to 13 midway through the second quarter.
Things got a little chippy as Bradley Beal took an outlet pass from Garrett Temple and got hit across the head by Jeff Teague going up for a dunk. Beal had to be restrained as Teague picked up a flagrant-1 foul.
The Wizards locked down the Hawks in the first half only allowing 16 made field goals and turning them over eight times as the Wizards led 56-43.
Things got very physical in the third quarter as both teams found themselves in the bonus early in the period. In an almost identical play, Jeff Teague took an outlet pass and it was Bradley Beal who challenged him at the rim. No flagrant foul was called but it was Teague who picked up a technical for taunting Beal.
The Wizards finally settled into the quarter on some very nice passing leading to easy buckets. Otto Porter isn’t really known to be much of a slasher but tonight he was. Very timely cuts led to some easy buckets for the former Georgetown star.
Otto came back with a nice dunk in transition off a find from Bradley Beal and the Verizon Center (and John Wall) were going crazy.
Hell, even Drew Gooden was hitting threes late in the shot clock. The Wiz were up 85-66 at the end of the third quarter and would cruise to an easy victory right?
Nene got the Wizards going in the fourth with a layup and the harm. Bynum took the next possession coast to coast for the lay in and the foul. The Wizards were up 21 two minutes into the fourth quarter. That’s when the wheels fell off and you could feel the anxiety from the Verizon center through the TV.
Atlanta’s bench enabled them to climb back into this game. Great fourth quarter play from Dennis Schroder and Mike Scott allowed the Hawks to claw back in this one. The Wizards’ shots stopped falling as well. The Wizards started the fourth quarter 3-11 from the field with 3 turnovers. Also, they stopped playing to win and were playing “not to lose.”
The Hawks used a 21-3 run on a four-minute scoring drought from the Wizards to get within three points with just 3:30 to play. Bradley Beal stopped the bleeding with a jumper off a curl screen to stretch the lead back to five.
The Hawks would not go away. Dennis Schroder kept attacking the hole and was able to score close in. He also got to the line on an and-1 (dumb foul from Gortat) to pull the Hawks within one with 23 seconds to play.
The Hawks sent Will Bynum to the line where he calmly knocked down two free throws to put the Wiz up 101-98.
On the next possession down, Dennis Schroder fell to the ground, threw the ball to Mike Muscala (who?) and he knocked down a three to tie the game at 101.
With just 14 seconds to play, the Wizards called timeout and ran a play for guess who… And this happened.