It was a play added to the Washington Wizards' offense a day earlier, and it was drawn up for a guy, Paul Pierce, who's been doing this sort of thing for the better part of two decades.
With three defenders near him, Pierce made a fallaway, 21-foot jumper that went in off the backboard at the buzzer to lift the Wizards over the Atlanta Hawks, 103-101, on Saturday night, despite playing without John Wall and after letting a 21-point lead evaporate.
As he left the court after giving the Wizards a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series, Pierce was asked on TV whether he called “Bank!” on the winner.
“I called, ‘Game!'” Pierce declared.
He had more fun at his news conference.
“Usually,” Pierce said, “I like to save those type of shots for later rounds.”
Told that Dennis Schroder, one of the Hawks who tried in vain to disrupt the game-winner, called it “a lucky shot,” Pierce chuckled. Then, referring to his lengthy career, Pierce retorted: “Well, 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 is 37, and he has a nerve in his back that acts up from time to time, including in the first half Saturday. He won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, and is well aware that time is running out on his career.
“I'm still soaking it up,” Pierce said, “because I don't have too many more of these left.”
The Wizards led by 21 with less than 10 minutes left.
“We got comfortable,” said Bradley Beal, who had 17 points and eight assists for Washington. “We thought the game was over.”
Wizards' Paul Pierce makes a fallaway, 21-foot jumper that went in off the backboard at the buzzer