Finally looking a bit more like a No. 1 seed than the team that's been so-so in the playoffs, the Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards, 106-101, on Monday night behind Jeff Teague's 26 points, including a key three, to even their second-round series at two games apiece.
Two days after hitting a buzzer-beater to win Game 3, Washington's Paul Pierce missed a three-point attempt that would have tied the score with less than 10 seconds left.
Al Horford had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Millsap added 19 points, six assists and five rebounds, as three of Atlanta's four All-Stars played significant roles.
Washington's lone All-Star, point guard John Wall, missed a third consecutive game with a broken left hand.
Right from the start, the Hawks were back to being the free-flowing, ball-moving regular-season version of themselves, the squad that won 60 games, rather than the disjointed, disorganized bunch that had been 5-4 this postseason.
The Hawks led most of the game, but Washington cut the deficit to 101-97 with under two minutes remaining. Teague's three-pointer with 72 seconds left got the margin back to seven.
Still, after Washington's Bradley Beal blocked a shot by Dennis Schroder in the lane to keep Atlanta's lead at 104-101, the Wizards had the ball and called a timeout with 9.5 seconds remaining. They got Pierce an open look at a three, but it went off the rim.
The Wizards, seeded fifth in the Eastern Conference, entered Monday with the best record in these playoffs at 6-1, including 3-0 at home. And they got terrific performances from Beal, with a career playoff-high 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and Pierce, with 22 points.
On Monday, reserve guard Schroder produced 14 points, but otherwise it was Atlanta's starters who led the way with the team's best brand of unselfish basketball.
Early on, the Hawks built a 16-0 edge in points in the paint, repeatedly finding the open man. And during a stretch that helped grow the lead to 14 in the second quarter, Atlanta scored on seven consecutive possessions — with six players contributing points.
When Pierce's inside basket a little under three minutes into the second half got Washington within 65-64, Atlanta responded with a 9-2 run, with all the points coming from Teague and Pero Antic, pushing its lead back to 10 going into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks' All-Star quartet — Teague, Millsap, Horford and Kyle Korver — combined for 43 points in the first half, only one fewer point than they totaled in all of Game 3.
Wall, meanwhile, again was limited to cheerleading. Wearing red pants and a black-and-white jacket, along with a black-and-beige brace on his hurt hand, he met Beal at midcourt for a celebratory slap on the chest during a timeout.