Paul Millsap crosses over Nene, drives baseline for tough and-1 reverse layup (VIDEO)

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Paul Millsap didn’t take his usual place as a member of the Hawks’ starting lineup in Game 3, unable to perform as expected due to dealing with flu-like symptoms.

Millsap was ineffective in 22 minutes off the bench, and despite a late run from Atlanta to force Paul Pierce to create some heroics at the buzzer, the reality is that the Wizards were in control from the jump, and held a large lead for most of the contest.

Millsap returned to form in Game 4, however, and not so coincidentally, so did the Hawks.

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On this play, Millsap used a crossover dribble to get past Nene, then got to the other side of the rim for the acrobatic and-1 finish.

Millsap finished the first half with 15 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals, and Atlanta scored 65 points and was up 10 at the intermission.

Paul Pierce misses game-tying three, Hawks hang on to even series with Wizards


Lightning couldn’t strike twice.

Paul Pierce hit the game-winner at the buzzer to give the Wizards a Game 3 victory, and got a clean look at a three in Game 4 that would have tied things up with less than six seconds left.

But the shot rimmed off this time, and the Hawks held on for a 106-101 victory to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Pierce had hit his first five three-pointers of the night, so looking for him late, especially after his Game 3 heroics, was a logical choice. Nene set a rigid screen on DeMarre Carroll, who made it into the game this time, and Pierce was somehow left all alone with the ball in his hands. Carroll diving at his feet may have provided enough of a distraction, and the fact that Pierce couldn’t land cleanly with Carroll in his way was enough to look to the closest referee for a late foul call plea.

But it wasn’t to be. Pierce had a solid night regardless, and finished with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, to go along with five rebounds and three blocked shots.

The Hawks took control of this one from the opening tip, with an aggressive and attacking style of offensive basketball we’ve rarely seen from them in the postseason. Atlanta scored 16 of its first 19 points in the paint or right at the rim, thanks to dribble penetration from Jeff Teague and the signature ball movement we had come to expect from this Atlanta team over the first half of the regular season.

Paul Millsap didn’t start Game 3 due to flu-like symptoms, and was largely ineffective in 22 minutes off the bench. But he came to play in this one, and put together a dominating first half with 15 points and six assists, which helped get his team clicking on the way to scoring 65 points over the game’s first two periods.

Teague dueled with Bradley Beal for most of the second half, with the Hawks remaining in control after staving off a couple of Washington surges. Beal scored 19 of his 34 points over the game’s final two periods, while Teague scored 14 of his 26 in a little over 15 second-half minutes.

The final Wizards run began with 1:12 to play, as they were trailing by seven points. Two quick buckets out of excellent timeout plays drawn up by Randy Wittman — a driving layup by Beal, followed by a dunk from Nene — had the game back within a single possession. Dennis Schröder, who largely played well in finishing with 14 points and eight assists off the bench, took it upon himself to score on a drive, missed, got his own rebound, and then missed again.

That set up the potential for Pierce to rain down terror on the Hawks with his shooting once again. But lightning wasn’t ready to strike twice.

It’s official: Wizards’ John Wall out for Game 4 against Hawks

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While the Wizards and their fans hold out hope, this shouldn’t be a surprise: John Wall will be out Monday night for Game 4.

The Wizards won Game 3 without Wall, dominating and leading by more than 20 at one point. Washington took its foot off the gas and that combined with a great run from the Atlanta bench made things interesting in the end. Or, set up Paul Pierce for heroics, if you prefer.

This opens a door for Atlanta it has to step through this time. All season they have relied on their bench, but it is time for Mike Budenholzer to really lean on his starters. That group — Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Al Horford — are +28 in this series but have played just 53 minutes as a group. That’s fewer than 18 minutes a night. In the debacle that was Atlanta’s Game 3 that lineup was +7 in 12 minutes. It’s the playoffs, time to go with what works. Or go home.

PBT Extra: Hawks can even series with Wizards if they play to their strengths

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No John Wall, no problem for the Wizards in Game 3 against the Hawks. Washington was in control by more than 20 and it was a run by the Atlanta bench — which had been unimpressive up to this point — that made it close in the end. Paul Pierce will be remembered for his heroics.

But can the Hawks tie it up Monday night, I tell Julie Donaldson in this latest PBT Extra.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Hawks just need to play to their strengths. I know Paul Millsap is banged up, but in 12 minutes in Game 3 the Hawks usual starting give — Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Millsap, and Al Horford — were a +7. That lineup has been strong all series, they just don’t lean on it. They need to now.


Dennis Schroder calls Paul Pierce’s game-winner ‘a lucky shot’



Derrick Rose’s game-winner? A lucky shot, according to Tristan Thompson.

Paul Pierce’s game-winner?

Dennis Schroder, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:

“At the end, it was a lucky shot and we lost the game,” Schroder said after scoring 16 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth to lead Atlanta’s comeback. “That’s a tough shot. I don’t think he makes it every time.”

Not one NBA player has ever taken a shot he’d make every time. That’s not the standard.

Pierce made this one. That’s all that matters.

Schroder played solid defense, but Piece likes that spot. Tough shot – yes. Lucky shot – no way.