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Fast break: Wizards regain edge on Paul Pierce's game-winner


Fast break: Wizards regain edge on Paul Pierce's game-winner

Invisible for most of Game 3 vs. the Atlanta Hawks, Paul Pierce made his presence felt when the Wizards were desperate for an answer. Tied at 101 with 14 seconds left in the game, Pierce gladly accepted the switch of the smaller Dennis Schroder guarding him and calmly backed him down, stepped back and over the help defense banked in the jump shot. 

It was a a major sigh of relief for the Wizards, who'd blown a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter without John Wall (left wrist) for the second game in a row, in front a sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center. They lead the series 2-1.

Those were Pierce's only points of the fourth and it overshadowed what otherwise had been a solid performance for the Wizards until the Hawks' reserves engineered a comeback.

The Hawks went on a 17-0 run to cut the deficit to 94-91 on a series of three-pointers from Dennis Schroder and Mike Scott. Down 101-98 with 14 seconds left, Mike Muscala buried a three-pointer to tie the score on a broken play to set up Pierce's heroics.

Nene had his best game of the series, going 0-for-9 in the first two games, and made 6 of 7 shots to start en route to 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Beal had 17 and a playoff career-high eight assists. 

Porter had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Marcin Gortat added 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

The Hawks were led by Jeff Teague, who had his best game of the series with 18 points, and his backup Dennis Schroder scoring 18 to lead the late comeback. Schroder scored 16 in the fourth.

TURNING POINT: The Wizards led by double digits throughout the second quarter, and by as many as 18 twice, en route to a 56-43 halftime edge. They held a double-digit lead entering the fourth and lost all of it until Pierce's shot at the buzzer. 

NUMBERS GAME: The Wizards shot 37-for-78, 47.4%, a 43-38 edge in rebounds, but the Hawks had a 50-38 edge in paint points and 25-11 in fast-break points.

DANGEROUS PLAY: Already dealing with a bad right ankle, Beal survived a scare when he had a breakaway basket but was fouled from behind by Teague. He was in the air and vulnerable when Teague came from behind and struck him across the head and sent Beal tumbling. Beal had to be restrained by teammates as Teague walked away. Upon review, it was ruled a Flagrant 1 foul and Beal made both foul shots. 

SICK LEAVE: Paul Millsap was bothered by the flu and didn't start. The Hawks tried to get away with Pero Antic against Nene and it wasn't a good result. Millsap entered at 7:10 of the first after Nene's consecutive baskets at the rim helped the Wizards lead 11-4. He didn't score in missing two shots and had two turnovers as the Hawks trailed 28-18 after the first. Millsap, not Antic, started the third quarter. Millsap was just 2 of 6 for eight points.

SLOW START: The Hawks scored 37 and 28 points to open Games 1 and 2 of this series. Eighteen is their low, and just two more than their playoff low going back to a first-round series with the Brooklyn Nets. The Hawks only made 1 of their first eight shots and shot 7-for-22 in the period, 31.8%.

QUALITY TIME: After appearing in garbage time of a blowout of Game 4 for the Toronto Raptors, Will Bynum had his most significant run. He played six minutes of the second quarter. Bynum shared the backcourt with Ramon Sessions and got into the paint, but his first pass was a turnover. He drained a contested corner three-point shot for a 37-24 lead that got the Wizards on a run to lead by 18. He also picked up three fouls in that span. Bynum returned to play 13 minutes in the fourth and got to the basket in transition while drawing a foul on Mike Muscala. Bynum drove past Kent Bazemore to get in the paint and left it for Porter for a layup for their first 20-point lead at 94-74. Bynum re-entered in the final 24 seconds when the Wizards needed ball-handlers and made both foul shots for a 101-98 lead to end with nine points.

UP NEXT: Both teams likely will practice lightly Sunday before playing Game 4 at Verizon Center on Monday (TNT, 7 p.m. ET).

MORE WIZARDS: John Wall addresses relationship with Wizards medical staff

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Fallout from the Kawhi/DeRozan trade; Kevin Love questions

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Fallout from the Kawhi/DeRozan trade; Kevin Love questions

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hugheswas joined by Nick Ashooh to break down the fallout from the trade involving Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan.

They looked at what it means for the Wizards and the East, as well as the Lakers and LeBron. Plus, they took fan questions, many of which centered on Kevin Love and the possibility of a trade to Washington.

You can listen to the episode right here:

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Jeff Green hopes NBA Finals experience with Cavs can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green hopes NBA Finals experience with Cavs can rub off on Wizards

Jeff Green's basketball résumé got a significant boost this spring and summer as his Cleveland Cavaliers marched all the way to the NBA Finals before they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. It was Green's first time going past the second round of the playoffs and the experience, he says, was invaluable.

Green has come about as close to winning a championship without actually winning one and he certainly hopes to get back in that position. Green believes his new team, the Washington Wizards, have the tools to make a deep playoff run and it's one of the reasons why he signed a free agent deal to join them.

"Being there last year myself with Cleveland, I know it takes a lot. It takes a lot of pieces. I feel like this team has them," he said. "We can get back to that point. When I got the call, I felt like it was the best opportunity for myself to get there."

The Wizards' franchise has not been past the second round of the playoffs since 1979, when they were known as the Bullets. That was before anyone on their roster was born.

But Green pointed to the open Eastern Conference and the talent on the roster as reasons to believe they can accomplish some things that they haven't in decades. They may be capable, but putting it all together is easier said than done.

Green hopes to be one of the glue guys necessary for the Wizards to reach their potential, in part by sharing the lessons he learned.

"Never take it for granted. There are a lot of greats that have never been there," he said. "Getting to the Finals and being part of that was beyond amazing. With the experience and seeing what it took, I can bring that here and get everybody on the same page of knowing what it takes and the sacrifices that you have to do to get to that point."

Green over and over mentioned how it takes a collective effort to go to the conference finals and beyond, but he did show some self-awareness and a sense of humor about his own experience in Cleveland. All teams are different and the one he just left was a unique situation.

"You can’t get there individually. I mean, you can, we did last year. I mean, LeBron [James] carried us all the way there," he joked. "But there’s only one LeBron, but to get there you have to have team unity. You all have to be on the same page and sacrifice to make sure you’re doing what it takes to get the team there. I think that’s the biggest key. It’s not an individual thing… unless you’re LeBron."

If the Wizards are to reach their goals and go to the conference finals or the NBA Finals, they will have to do it differently than the Cavaliers did. They do not have a player on the level of James who can do much of it by himself. But Green said the process of imparting his wisdom has already started.

"I talked to John [Wall]," Green said. "Knowing that he wants to get to the Finals, I was just picking his brain and what he thinks is needed to get there. And me sharing my experience of getting to the Finals and what it takes."

The Wizards have reached a point as an organization where they have the urgency to reach new heights. Green believes he can help them get there.

Listen to our full interview with Jeff Green on the Wizards Tipoff Podcast: