Story By: Richard Thomas
Photos By: Sol Tucker
Paul Pierce does it again! Wait, that is what the headline should have read, instead a last second shot called not off before the buzzed ended the Wizards playoff run and season in dramatic fashion.
In what looked like an almost impossible shot by Pierce, his left court heave swished, apparently tying the score at the buzzer. Pierce raised his arms; the Wizards bench erupted and the thought was overtime. Then, though, the play was reviewed, showing the clock expired before Pierce released the basketball.
“I still feel, and I know our guys feel, we should have won this series,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
It’s the Hawks’ first trip to a conference final since the NBA realigned into conferences in 1970-71. The team had not won two playoff series in a single year since moving to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season.
After the game Hawks players commented on the victory tonight and what it meant to for the city to get to their first Eastern Conference Finals in franchise history.
Ït was something this city needed. They were really there for us during this push and we will need them for the Finals as well,” said Jeff Teague.
Bradley Beal scored 29 points, including a baseline jumper to cap a 9-0 stretch and give Washington an 88-87 lead with a little more than 3½ minutes left.
“It’s frustrating. It’s depressing. It’s sad,” Beal said. “It’s probably every synonym of ‘sad’ you can think of.”
John Wall who obviously showed his mental toughness fought again tonight, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Wizards alive. He commented on the difference if he didn’t have five broken bones in his left hand.
“Only God knows how different it would have been,” said Wall.
Atlanta did a great job defending the Wizards big men and the absence of Marcin Gortat’s scoring off the pick and roll left the Wizards looking for answers. Gortat had apparently been suffering from a case of food poisoning and just could not go tonight fully according to Wittman. “We put IV’s yesterday, IV’s today and it just didn’t help. He was a big part of them controlling Nene inside as well.