Paul Pierce buzzer-beater lifts Wizards past Hawks

Washington veteran Paul Pierce hit a jump shot on the buzzer to give the Wizards a 103-101 home win against Atlanta on Saturday to take a 2-1 advantage in their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series.

In the day’s other game, Memphis also went up 2-1 in its series with a home victory over a misfiring Golden State.

Pierce, hemmed in by three defenders, got off a fallaway, 20-foot jumper that went in off the backboard as the Wizards escaped with a last-gasp win after having given up a 21-point lead.

“Usually I like to save those type of shots for later rounds,” Pierce quipped.

Told that Dennis Schroder, one of the Hawks who tried in vain to disrupt the game-winner, called it “a lucky shot,” the 37-year-old Pierce chuckled.

“I guess Schroder is going to say that, because he’s a little young. … He hasn’t been able to see it over the last 17 years.”

Pierce, who won a championship with Boston in 2008 is aware that time is running out on his career and this may well be his last shot at a championship.

“I’m still soaking it up,” Pierce said, “because I don’t have too many more of these left.”

Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Monday at Washington.

It was the second straight day a bank shot at the buzzer won an NBA playoff game. Derrick Rose hit a 3 off the glass to give Chicago a 99-96 victory over Cleveland on Friday.

Washington was missing John Wall, its All-Star point guard, for a second consecutive game because of a broken left hand, but it was the Hawks who seemed out of sorts most of the evening.

The Wizards led by 21 with less than 10 minutes left before the visitors stormed back.

“We got comfortable,” said Bradley Beal, who had 17 points and eight assists for Washington. “We thought the game was over.”

Even Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer put it this way: “You feel like you’re not going to be able to close that gap.”

Yet Budenholzer’s small lineup of little-used reserves made things interesting.

A 17-0 run got the visitors within three points with less than 3 1/2 minutes remaining, and Mike Muscala’s 3-pointer with 14.1 seconds left tied it.

But Pierce came through as the clock hit zero, releasing the ball with about a second to go, then falling to his back on the court with arms aloft.

“Took my time. Wanted to make sure I got the shot off with no time on the clock,” Pierce said. “I’ve been in those situations many times.”

Pierce finished with 13 points, including three of the Wizards’ 10 3s.

“That’s what he does,” Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer. He’s been there before. His favorite (saying) is, This is why they brought me here,’ and he showed us.”

Memphis’ Zach Randolph scored 22 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 99-89 win against Golden State.

Marc Gasol added 21 points and 15 rebounds while Mike Conley and Courtney Lee both finished with 11 points for Memphis, which has looked much improved with point guard Conley back in the lineup for the past two games.

League MVP Stephen Curry finished with 23 points for Golden State but was 8 of 21 from the field, including 2 of 10 outside the arc. Klay Thompson had 20 points, and Harrison Barnes added 16.

For a second straight game, the Grizzlies made the Warriors look nothing like the team that was the NBA’s best home or away during the regular season.

The Warriors missed seven straight 3s during one stretch, several wide-open looks, and the Grizzlies harassed them into a handful of ugly turnovers.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN