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Hawks avoid breaking down by a split second


Hawks avoid breaking down by a split second

DeMarre Carroll wanted to cry. Jeff Teague's perceived state may have required paramedics. No way that happened, not again.

Paul Pierce took the final viable shot for the Washington Wizards in the last four games between the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards. Three times the ball, whether it left the forward's hands under duress or after a clean look, went through the net.

Only twice did the shots count. The third attempt, one the Wizards needed to force overtime in Friday's now or never Game 6, was charmed for the Hawks.

It came with Atlanta leading 94-91.

It came from beyond the 3-point arc, meaning a successful basket leads to more basketball.

It came after a handoff from John Wall, with two defenders in his way and the out-of-bounds dangerously close to grabbing his feet.

It also came a nanosecond after the last second ticked off. One tortuous replay review confirmed the verdict.

Hawks win, advancing to a conference finals for the first time since 1970. 

Wizards lose, painfully so considering they played without All-Star guard John Wall three games after suffering five fractures in his left wrist and hand.

But for a moment, the Hawks didn't know they were indeed heading to the next round where LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers await. They thought Paul Pierce delivered the truth once again.

The small forward hit a buzzer-beater to win Game 3. After missing a potential game-tying 3-pointer in Game 4, he sank one with eight seconds left to put Washington ahead in Game 5 only Al Horford to trump his heroics. No wonder they thought here we go again.

"When I turned around I saw Paul Pierce shooting the ball, and I was about to cry and I said not again," Carroll stated.

“I almost had a heart attack," Teague said.

Paul Millsap, a frustrating matchup for the Wizards all series, began planning for more basketball.

"First thought was we have to go get the win in overtime. That was a good shot but we have to get it in overtime," he explained.

Except the good shot wasn't a successful one. Replay showed the ball still touching Pierce's fingertips. 

"It went through, fortunately the basketball Gods were on our side, and they let us get through this one," said Carroll.

The Hawks also made their own luck.

After the Wizards' bench pulled Washington even in the first half, Atlanta seemingly took control with a 23-8 run starting late in the second quarter. 

After Wall and bradley Beal fueled a Wizards comeback that put Washington up 88-87 with 3:50 remaining, Atlanta didn't fold.

“We kept saying this is where we want to be, we are OK," Kyle Korver said. "They are going to make runs, they are at home, and they are a great team. We just stayed positive and kept on believing, and we were able to pull this win out.”  

Carroll hit consecutive layups off beautifully designed plays to put the Hawks ahead for good at 93-89 with 39 seconds remaining.

"We ran a play mainly for Jeff Teague or Al Horford, but I knew they were going to key in on them so I made the decision to slash to the rack," Carroll said of his decisive basket. "Slashing it is what I do best and when you have a good point guard like Jeff he can get you the ball in the right spot.”

Defensively, the Hawks held the Wizards to 36.6 percent shooting from the field, including 4 of 18 from the free throw line. Now they march on to the next round.

"I think for our organization it's something we can take a lot of pride in," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said of reaching the conference finals. "There was a lot of great work put in all year." 

It nearly came undone by another shot from Pierce.

"When the shot went in, my initial reaction was you have to be kidding me," Korver exclaimed. "That was a tough moment to digest. We shortly saw the replay after that, and hey it wasn’t pretty at all, but we got it done.” 

[MORE WIZARDS: Sickness responsible for Marcin Gortat's no-show in Game 6]

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

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Bradley Beal's agent says guard's not looking for a trade: 'He wants to win'

Bradley Beal, his agent Mark Bartlestein told Bleacher Report, would like to stay in Washington - even as he's a hot topic among front offices as the trade deadline approaches.

From Bleacher Report:

His agent, Mark Bartelstein, is not looking for a trade. "Brad wants to win, Bartelstein told B/R. "He wants to win at the highest level, and he wants to compete for championships. I think he's seeing progress, and he's going to do everything he can to lead this team. They got themselves into a huge hole, and he's going to do his best to get them out of it.

The Wizards are facing tough decisions when it comes to the future of the franchise as this season's trade deadline approaches. Beal, as NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig detailed this week, is among the most tradable assets they have, especially when it comes to their three major contracts. But owner Ted Leonsis took a firm stance against tanking while speaking to reporters in London, and Beal is integral to their playoff hopes with John Wall sidelined. 

This isn't the first time this season that Beal has denied wanting to be anywhere but DC. When drama swirled around the team earlier this season, Beal denied a report that he had requested a trade.

"That's nonsense," he said at the time. "I heard it earlier before the game and I was like, 'If it didn't come from the horse's mouth, it wasn't me.' I got this Washington jersey on and I come here and work everyday, you know, until otherwise. This is where I wanna be."

Earlier this season, it was reported that the Raptors were interested in Beal but couldn't afford what the Wizards were asking for him. According to the latest report on Beal from Bleacher Report, there are a number of teams who may still be interested. 

Again, from Bleacher Report:

There are so many teams in the mix trying to make that extra push that want Beal," a Western Conference executive told B/R.

But even if some fans are clamoring for a big trade at the deadline, the price tag for Beal - who had 26 points in the Wizards' comeback win over the Knicks this week - only seems to be rising. 


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G-Leaguer Jordan McRae who dropped 54 points could be a roster addition for Wizards

G-Leaguer Jordan McRae who dropped 54 points could be a roster addition for Wizards

Time is nearly up for the Washington Wizards to replace Ron Baker on the active roster.

Jordan McRae made his strongest push yet for the gig.

McRae, one of the Wizards’ two-way contract players, scored 54 points for Capital City Friday night in the Go-Go’s 118-107 win over the Main Red Claws. That’s the most points scored by any G-League player this season.

Makes sense this wing guard holds the distinction. McRae leads the league in scoring with 29.5 points per game.

Finding such opportunities with Washington this season has not come as easy. McRae, a 27-year-old with prior NBA experience, scored only four points in 35 minutes over eight games for the 19-26 Wizards this season.

While shuttling back and forth between the two levels since Baker’s release on Jan. 7, the 6-foot-5 guard’s lone appearance came in the final minutes of a 17-point win over Philadelphia on Jan. 9.

For now, McRae and Devin Robinson, Washington’s other two-way contract player, offer in-case-of-emergency depth. Robinson traveled with the Wizards to London for Thursday’s win over the New York Knicks but did not play.

Someone else will join the roster soon.

League rules mandate a minimum of 14 players. Teams have two weeks to reach that number should they drop below. Washington, which kept its 15th slot open all season, did upon releasing Baker.

The Wizards could and likely will fill the void by signing a free agent to a 10-day contract. Another body would not hurt.

John Wall (heel surgery) is out for the season. Uncertain recovery timelines exist for forward Markieff Morris (neck) and center Dwight Howard (back surgery).

McRae is not an option for the 10-day scenario, but he has shown a readiness with the scorching Go-Go. Capital City has won seven of its last eight games.

“He’s done a great job staying with his development on and off the court,” Go-Go coach Jarell Christian said of McRae. “He’s our leader. For him to continue to play the right way, everyone else just falls in line.”

McRae’s scoring surge comes after he sat out last season with a shoulder injury.

“It was the first time in my life being injured. Being out for a whole year, it was tough for me,” McRae said. “Being with these guys every day, going back and forth with the Wizards, it’s tiring, but its fun. It’s my job.”

Christian offered advice on the key for McRae should the Wizards eventually turn McRae’s contract from a two-way to an NBA deal and set him loose on the court.

“I think it’s just about his mentality. When he's thrown into a game on the next level, still being able to function without getting the ball every possession. Being a floor spacer and continue to play defense,” Christian said. “He’s taken initiatives in some games and become the best defender on the team. I think every team wants somebody who wants to take that initiative and become a lockdown defender.”