The Wizards almost blew Game 3. They had a 19-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but with 14 seconds left found themselves tied. Only a miracle Paul Pierce shot bailed them out.
The Wizards weren’t so lucky in Game 5. John Wall returned to harass Jeff Teague into seven turnovers, and they led by as much as eight in the fourth quarter. But back-to-back Kyle Korver and Al Horford threes got the Hawks right back into the thick of things, and ensured that the end of the fourth quarter was a very frantic affair.
First, Pierce had the ball stolen and DeMarre Carroll finished off a nice fast break with 14 second remaining:
Then Pierce made up for the lapse on the previous possession by burying a three for the lead:
The Wizards did a good job defending the Hawks’ initial shot at the win, as Wall got a hand on Dennis Schroeder’s layup. But nobody (cough: Nene) blocked out Al Horford, and he won the game with a putback:
Al Horford was an absolute monster, the best player on the court. He has been one of the most underrated players in the league for a few years running, and even after Atlanta’s incredible season he probably still is. In an ugly 82-81 game where both teams turned it over more than 19 times and neither shot better than 41%, Horford’s relatively efficient 23 points on 10-18 shooting was crucial. The only other Hawk to shoot over 50% was Mike Muscala, and he only took five shots.
Horford was also valuable on the defensive end. In a two minute span in the first quarter, he blocked Nene twice and Marcin Gortat once. He finished the game with five blocks, and continued to harass Nene into a 4-11 night.
The game-winning bucket was obviously his biggest play on the night, but without every single one of Horford’s previous 37 minutes, the Hawks wouldn’t have won the game.
h/t reddit users Keeks_marone and goran_dragic for the videos
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo via John Bazemore/AP