John Wall’s return in the crucial game 5 couldn’t prevent Washington Wizards from suffering second consecutive defeat in the series. Top-seeded Atlanta Hawks eked the Wizards 82-81 in a thriller to lead the Eastern Conference Semifinal series 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Hawks’ All-star Al Horford snatched an offensive rebound and shot at the basket with 1.9 seconds remaining to clinch victory at home. The Hawks, now one win away from the Conference finals, aim to round up things in game 6.
“I wasn’t supposed to be involved in the play at all,” Horford revealed after guiding his side home. ”When I saw the ball go up, I just ran in there.”
John Wall returned in game 5 and notched up 15 points after recovering from a fractured left arm and wrist. Wall was injured ten days ago during the Wizards series opener against the Hawks. He had missed 3 games.
”I didn’t have any problems with my hand,” said Wall, who was announced as a starter about 20 minutes before tipoff. ”I was able to play aggressive and make plays, so I was fine.”
In a game of swinging fortunes, The Hawks didn’t score for seven minutes in the final quarter, but notched up 14 straight points to edge past Wizards’ challenge. Paul Pierce, who doomed Atlanta at the final second in game 3, once more got open in the corner to shoot a 3 pointer to lift Washington 81-80 with 8.3 seconds remaining. The 37-year-old taunted the Hawks’ bench and home crowd on his way back in celebrations. Atlanta were left with just a single chance. Dennis Schroder initiated a fourth quarter rally, and Horford finished it off with an easy shot from under the basket. The Hawks’ center returned with 23 points and 11 rebounds to his credit, on a day when both sides suffered in the offense.
“A heck of a play by Al,” a relieved Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.
More heartbreak at DC, as the Capitals lost the game 7 of NHL playoffs against New York Rangers.
The Wizards though have a chance in Game 6 on Friday at Washington.