For the second consecutive night, a Eastern Conference semifinal playoff game was won at the buzzer.
Veteran forward Paul Pierce banked home a tough 21-foot fadeaway jumper as time expired to give the No. 5-seeded Washington Wizards a 103-101 win over the top-seeded Hawks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on Saturday night.
Pierce, who was well-guarded during the play by Dennis Schroder, received the ball at the top of the free throw circle from Bradley Beal with 5.4 seconds left. After facing up and taking one dribble to the left, Pierce launched the fadeaway with 0.7 seconds on the clock and landed on his backside as the ball went through the hoop. Teammates then mobbed him in celebration.
“I called, ‘Game!'” Pierce said when asked by ESPN reporter Chris Broussard whether he called “Bank.”
Pierce’s heroics come just a night after Derrick Rose banked home a game-winning triple to give the Chicago Bulls a 2-1 lead in their series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pierce, aka as “The Truth,” has made a career of making big shots. Just this postseason, Pierce is 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) from the field in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Pierce finished the game with 13 points, on 5-of-12 shooting, and seven rebounds. Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Nene each added 17 points for the Wizards, who played without star point guard John Wall for a second straight game. Wall is out due to a broken hand suffered in Game 1 of the series.
While Piece saved the Wizards, the truth is that Washington shouldn’t have been in the position to lose the game.
Washington controlled the game from the opening tip and entered the fourth quarter up 19 points. Will Bynum’s jumper gave the Wizards a 91-70 lead with 9:53 remaining.
Fox Sports reports that with the Hawks down by 20 and around eight minutes left, head coach Mike Budenholzer inserted his third unit — including John Jenkins and Shelvin Mack. And that seemed to spark the team.
Led by Schroder, the Hawks ran off 17 straight points to pull within 94-91 with 3:14 left. Schroder tallied 16 of his 18 points in the stanza. Jeff Teague also contributed 17 points, while DeMarre Carroll added 14.
Following a time out, Washington scored five of the game’s next seven points to increase their lead to 99-93 with 1:10 to go. Schroder answered with five straight points to bring the Hawks within a point with 23 ticks showing on the clock. Bynum put the Wizards back up by three with a pair of free throws but Mike Muscala tied the game with a three-pointer with 14 seconds to go.
The Wizards were outscored 35-18 in the fourth. This is troublesome for Washington. Bleacher Report is reporting that the Wizards have been outscored by 36 points in the fourth quarter.
The good news for Washington is that they lead the series and according to WhoWins.com, the Wizards have an 81.8 percent chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.
[photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]