Even if he was lucky to get the shot off the way he did, Paul Pierce was the hero for the Washington Wizards as they take a 2-1 lead in the series against the Atlanta Hawks, beating them 103-101 in game 3 on a buzzer beater from Pierce, elbowing Dennis Schroder and falling back to hit the almost impossible bank shot.
Schroder later called it a lucky shot which it probably was. Pierce obviously reacted to that, just like he reacted in the postgame interview, still hyped up about his huge basket that won the game. This came 14 seconds after Mike Muscala hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 101-101. The Hawks managed to claw their way back in the fourth quarter from 21 points down, They just couldn’t get the right kind of bounce on the final play.
This was a testy, slightly violent game. Paul Pierce got hurt early on after trying to defend a much stronger DeMarre Carroll. Bradley Beal got hit midair by Jeff Teague which resulted in a flagrant one on the Hawks’ point guard. Later in the game Beal retaliated, wasn’t called for the flagrant (“great” officiating) while Teague was called for a technical foul for sorta retaliating. It was that kind of night.
With the Hawks looking at a loss, Al Horford left the game, heading to the locker room. It was up to the bench to make things a little bit less embarrassing. They turned out to almost win the game, with a fantastic performance from Schroder, scoring 18 points, co-leading the Hawks along with Jeff Teague. The Hawks attempts to start Pero Antic backfired. He didn’t have that stretching influence while Paul Millsap, coming off the bench, never got into his usual rhythm.
One player that’s really making a name for himself in these playoffs is Otto Porter with 17 points. His rookie season and parts of this one made him seem like a bust. Bust as Pierce once said about him, Porter is a player with incredible talent on both ends of the floor, and it’s going to show sooner or later. He is averaging 14 points with 9.3 rebounds in this series after not being too much of a factor during the regular season.
The Hawks aren’t going to win games if Kyle Korver takes just five shots. He scored six points on 2-of-5 from the field, both 3-pointers, but their game plan has so much riding on him being used a lot more, instead of spending 37 minutes like some sort of 3-point specialist. Korver is that but so much more as well, and not including him in the game plan is simply a waste of a lineup spot and role.
In all four playoff series, the lower seeds have the upper hand after three games. The Wizards are playing without John Wall, while the Hawks are finding out that playing “their” kind of basketball simply isn’t very easy in the playoffs. Paul Pierce overall wasn’t having a very good game (13 points on 5-of-12 from the field), but his confidence and experience make him so natural in this situation, helping him prevail to have another shot at glory.