The Hawks and the Wizards battled through an ugly but competitive Game 5 contest, only to give us one of the postseason’s more exciting finishes.
In the end, it was Al Horford grabbing an offensive rebound and getting a put-back to go with 1.9 seconds remaining that was the difference, and Atlanta came away with the 82-81 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
John Wall returned to the starting lineup for the Wizards, and played through the five fractures on his non-shooting hand. While he was far from dominant, he was plenty effective, and at times spectacular. Wall finished with 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting, to go along with seven assists, four rebounds and four steals.
Horford, meanwhile, was the man for the Hawks. In addition to coming up with the game-winner, he got the job done on both ends of the floor all night long, leading his team in scoring with 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Again, this game was far from aesthetically pleasing. The two teams combined to shoot 9-of-38 from three-point distance, and committed a ridiculous total of 42 turnovers.
The Hawks barely scored at all during the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, and were only able to put up three points on free throws during that painfully long stretch. Their first field goal of the period didn’t come until Kyle Korver knocked down a long three with just under five minutes to play which cut the Wizards lead to three. That was part of a 14-0 run that put the Hawks back in control with under two minutes left.
Then came the late-game heroics.
Paul Pierce was stripped of the ball with the game tied and under 20 seconds left, and that led to a perfectly-executed two-on-one Atlanta fast break that gave the Hawks a two-point lead. Pierce was clearly fouled by Korver on the play, but nothing was called, and he seethed on the bench during the ensuing timeout while plotting his revenge.
Pierce came through on the next possession, knocking down a big-time three to give Washington a one-point lead with eight seconds left. But his effort ultimately went to waste.
Dennis Schröder came flying in for a layup attempt with a few seconds left, and as the shot came off, Horford was in the right place at the right time to convert the game-winning finish.
Despite the ugly statistics, this was a highly-competitive contest that came down to the game’s final possession. Wall played well enough to be emboldened for Game 6 at home, and given just how close the games in this series have been, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see these two teams back in Atlanta on Monday for a decisive Game 7.