Here are the best and worst moments from the Wizards’ heartbreaking, season-ending, 94-91 loss to the Hawks in Game 6 of their second-round series at Verizon Center.
Best calm: With his team trailing by eight entering the fourth quarter, Wizards Coach Randy Wittman told ESPN’s Chris Broussard his message to his players was to stay with it. “Twelve minutes is a long time,” Wittman said. Not quite long enough …
Best shot: After Al Horford made 1 of 2 free throws with 6.4 seconds to play, the Wizards called timeout to set up a potential game-tying shot. Everyone in the arena, including the five Atlanta defenders on the floor, knew that somehow, some way, Paul Pierce was getting the ball. Sure enough, “The Truth” received a pass on the left wing, stepped away from Kyle Korver and released a three-point shot that splashed through the net. I CALLED OVERTIM–oh, no. No, no, no, no …
Worst gut-punch: Man, Pierce, why do your 37-year-old fingers have to be so long? Officials reviewed the shot and determined that the ball was still on Pierce’s fingertips when the clock hit zero. The call was reversed and the Hawks advanced to their first Eastern Conference finals since 1970.
Worst prediction: Only because it was accurate. Amazingly, painfully accurate. The Wizards trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter and led with 2 minutes to play.
Worst defense: Six of the Hawks’ eight field goals in the fourth quarter were layups, including two in the final minute by DeMarre Carroll on passes from Jeff Teague.
Best pair: Bradley Beal and John Wall were outstanding for Washington. Beal scored a game-high 29 points, while Wall — broken hand and all — had 20 points, 13 assists and six rebounds. Wall was unhindered by the the five non-displaced fractures in his left hand, as evidenced by this strip of Carroll and outlet pass to Beal, whose dunk closed the gap late in the fourth quarter. Beal hit a three-pointer on Washington’s next possession to give the Wizards their first lead since the second quarter.
Worst starters not named Beal and Wall: Pierce, Nene and Marcin Gortat combined for 11 points on 4-for-18 shooting and were the main culprits for the Wizards’ slow start. Washington missed 10 of its first 12 shots as the Hawks built an eight-point lead.
Best bench: Wittman played eight players in Wednesday’s 82-81 loss in Game 5. He used nine players by the end of the first quarter Friday. The Wizards had 15 bench points in first half and finished with 31 for the game.
Best life: That #KSlife. Kevin Seraphin, who hadn’t scored in the series, made a runner at the buzzer to give the Wizards a 20-19 lead after one quarter, and he was just getting started. Seraphin scored a playoff career-high 13 points and had eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
Worst Wittman: And yet, Seraphin started the second half on the bench. There was no mutiny, only an uprising by the Hawks, who had a 57-43 lead when Seraphin checked in for Gortat with 7 minutes 50 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Best Atlanta all-stars: Carroll led Atlanta with 25 points, but all-stars Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap scored 20 points apiece as part of a balanced attack. Millsap had a game-high 15 points in the first half, including a layup at the buzzer that gave the Hawks a 45-39 lead, and was largely responsible for keeping Pierce in check. Teague added seven assists and five rebounds.
Best game plan: Attack Pierce. “The Truth” was exposed defensively throughout the night, which would be easier to accept if he didn’t shoot 1 for 7 from the field.
Worst basketball: “This is the first time we’ve had some offensive rhythm in this game,” ESPN’s Dave Pasch said…with 5:41 to play in the third quarter. The action picked up in the fourth quarter, but the first half, like almost all of Game 5, was brutal to watch. The teams combined for 25 offensive rebounds in the first half, but the Wizards were only 3 for 13 on their second-chance opportunities.
Best Wall: It’s good the Verizon Center crowd — and Colin Cowherd — got one last look at the Wizards’ point guard of the present and future, who didn’t appear to do anything to damage the hand that kept him out of three games this series.
Worst Nene: He grabbed 11 rebounds, but he was a mess offensively, shooting 2 for 7, including an ill-advised drive against Al Horford with the Wizards trailing by two in the final minute.
Best possession: Otto Porter Jr. had seven points and eight rebounds off the bench, with three of those rebounds coming on one incredible second-quarter possession.
Worst history: Exactly one year ago, the Wizards were eliminated from the playoffs when they lost Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at home to the Indiana Pacers.
Best offseason apparel: This was $30 in the team store. It shouldn’t be long before it’s discounted.
Worst lack of giveaways: No T-shirts, no towels — not even free chicken — for fans at Game 6.
Best pregame shooter: Korver. He missed all seven of his three-point attempts in the game and finished with two points.
Best Facebook post: Gortat likes to quote “300” before games and he did so on Friday.
Worst performance: Gortat’s personal Hell in Game 6 was the Wizards bench, where he spent most of the night. He had two points and three rebounds in 12 minutes.
Worst pun: To borrow from Robin Ficker’s vegetable-themed collection, the Wizards’ dreams were squashed yet again. Until next year…