Paul Pierce had a more open look to tie the score at the end of Game 4 than he had when he won it at the buzzer in Game 3. This result, however, was different for the Wizards.
Pierce's three-point shot, which came open because of the Wizards taking advantage of the Atlanta Hawks' constant switches, hit the back of the rim in what became a 106-101 loss to tie the series at 2. His bank shot at the buzzer of Game 3 had given the Wizards a 103-101 victory on Saturday.
"I thought I got a great look. That is the way it goes sometimes," said Pierce, who made his first five three-point shots and finished with 22 points. "Sometimes you make (it) and sometimes you miss. We are not going to put our heads down. We are just going to look at the things we need to do better to get back ready for Game 5."
There's a laundry list, but this is the short version:
- Get Marcin Gortat more touches (seven shots)
- Keep Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder out of the lane (40 points)
- Keep the Hawks out of transition by committing too many turnovers (17)
- Capitalize when Pero Antic and Mike Muscala are on the floor
With a chance to take a 3-1 series lead and maintain the home-court advantage they took from the No. 1 seed Hawks by winning Game 1, the Wizards lost their way defensively.
While they made 10 of their first 15 three-point attempts, the Hawks made 26 of 44 shots in the first half for 59.1% shooting. They trailed 66-55 by halftime and had to play from behind the rest of the way.
"For whatever reason we were not (there) mentally ... physically. Effort-wise we were perfect," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "But mentally we were not into what we were trying to accomplish defensively in the first half. We were not all on the same page and when you're like that you are going to give up easy baskets. (Thirty-two) points in the paint in the first half."
Pierce carried the offensive load in the first half when he scored 14 of his points. Beal took over after the break, scoring 17 of his career-playoff high 34.
"I thought it was going in," Beal said of Pierce's three-point attempt in the final seconds. "It was a great look, a great play drawn up by Witt. They started switching and they were kind of confused and Paul had a great open look. The open one is always the hardest one to make. Just knowing we were right there even though we didn't play a great game, we still have something to look forward to."