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Hawks avoid breaking down by a split second

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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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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime? 

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

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Carmelo Anthony traded to Hawks in three-team deal, but not likely to stay

The stage has been set for Carmelo Anthony to hit free agency, as the 10-time All-Star was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in a three-team deal, one that will lead to a subsequent buyout of his contract. ESPN first reported the news and noted that the Rockets are the favorites to sign him.

The full deal sends Dennis Schroder from the Hawks to the Thunder in exchange for Anthony and a protected first-round pick, and sends Mike Muscala from Atlanta to Philly. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will go to the Thunder from Philly and Justin Anderson will go from the Sixers to the Hawks.

That's a complicated deal, but it ultimately frees Anthony up to choose a new team. He was set to make $27.9 million from the Thunder next season, but the Hawks are footing the bill to let him walk.

Anthony's skills have declined now that he's 34 years old. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points on 40.4 percent shooting, way down from the 22.4 points he averaged the season before with the Knicks.

Still, Anthony could help a team looking for a scoring punch and the Rockets would like some more help in their quest to take down the Warriors. If he signs there, he will join friend Chris Paul and the 2017-18 MVP, James Harden. 

Houston has been the logical landing spot for Anthony ever since news broke that the Thunder were looking for a way out of his contract. If he doesn't go there, perhaps the Lakers would make sense. LeBron James is going to need a lot more help than the roster he currently has around him to make some noise in the crowded Western Conference.

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