Wizards come up short against Hawks, 106-101; series even at 2-2
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer
Two days after hitting a buzzer-beater to win Game 3, Washington's Paul Pierce missed a 3-point attempt that would have tied the score with less than 10 seconds left.
Al Horford had 18 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Millsap added 19 points, six assists and five rebounds, as three of Atlanta's four All-Stars played significant roles.
Washington's lone All-Star, point guard John Wall, missed a third consecutive game with a broken left hand.
Game 5 is Wednesday night at Atlanta.
Right from the start, the Hawks were back to being the free-flowing, ball-moving regular-season version of themselves, the squad that won 60 games, rather than the disjointed, disorganized bunch that had been 5-4 this postseason.
The Hawks led most of the game, but Washington cut the deficit to 101-97 with under 2 minutes remaining. Teague's 3-pointer with 72 seconds left got the margin back to seven.
Still, after Washington's Bradley Beal blocked a shot by Dennis Schroder in the lane to keep Atlanta's lead at 104-101, the Wizards had the ball and called a timeout with 9.5 seconds remaining. They got Pierce an open look at a 3, but it went off the rim.
The Wizards, seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference, entered Monday with the best record in these playoffs at 6-1, including 3-0 at home. And they got terrific performances from Beal, with a career playoff-high 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Pierce, with 22 points, including five of Washington's 12 makes from beyond the arc.
It was Pierce who banked in a 21-foot fadeaway jumper for the winner on Saturday. Washington had blown all of a 21-point, fourth-quarter lead as the Hawks used a small-ball lineup of reserves to pull even with less than 15 seconds left.
On Monday, reserve guard Schroder produced 14 points, but otherwise it was Atlanta's starters who led the way with the team's best brand of unselfish basketball.
Early on, the Hawks built a 16-0 edge in points in the paint, repeatedly finding the open man. And during a stretch that helped grow the lead to as many as 14 in the second quarter, Atlanta scored on seven consecutive possessions — with six players contributing points.
When Pierce's inside basket a little under 3 minutes into the second half got Washington within 65-64, Atlanta responded with a 9-2 run, with all the points coming from Teague and Pero Antic, pushing its lead back to 10 going into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks' All-Star quartet — Teague, Millsap, Horford and Kyle Korver — combined for 43 points in the first half, only one fewer point than they totaled in all of Game 3.
Wall, meanwhile, again was limited to cheerleading. Wearing red pants and a black-and-white jacket, along with a black-and-beige brace on his hurt hand, he met Beal at midcourt for a celebratory slap on the chest during a timeout.
Hawks: When Schroder missed two free throws in the fourth quarter, spectators won free chicken sandwiches via a promotion — drawing, as usual, the loudest cheers of the night. ... Millsap was back in the starting lineup after being used as a substitute in Game 3 on Saturday because of flu-like symptoms and scoring only eight points.
Wizards: Entered Monday as one of two NBA teams — along with Memphis — that had not lost at home during this postseason. ... Beal's previous playoff high was 28 points.
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