Paul Pierce retrieved the Wizards at the Verizon Center on Saturday after the hosts, without John Wall, let a 21-point lead away in the final quarter. Pierce’s 21-feet jumper with 3 defenders breathing down his shoulder lifted Washington to a 103-101 win in game 3 against the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards now lead the best of seven Eastern Conference Semifinal Series 2-1.
“Usually,” Pierce said in the locker-room. “I like to save those type of shots for later rounds.”
The Hawks trailed exactly 20 points till 7 to 8 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and appeared to be the second side to pull off a victory from that situation like what the Clippers did in 2012 post-season against the Memphis Grizzlies. But the Hawks failed, leaving the all-team record 802-1 in that stretch.
The Wizards led by 21 points with less than 10 minutes of regulation remaining. But complacence allowed the Hawks to come back and almost snatch a win. A 17-0 run brought the Hawks within 3 points, and Mike Muscala tied with a 3-pointer as 14.1 seconds remained.
“We got comfortable,” said Bradley Beal, who contributed 17 points and eight assists to Washington’s tally. “We thought the game was over.”
But the Hawks perished due to the 37-year-old’s magic. Pierce timed his trademark step-back jumper, released the ball in the last seconds of the game and fell on his back on the court. The ball banked off the back-board before going through the basket.
“Took my time. You know, wanted to make sure I got the shot off with no time on the clock,” Pierce explained the moment of the match. “I’ve been in those situations many times.”
Pierce scored 13 riding on three 3-pointers, as his side netted 10 from the 3-point range.