CHICAGO — Paul Pierce watched the ball swish through the basket and held his follow-through, his right arm straight up and his right wrist curled, a few seconds longer than usual as he skipped to the Washington Wizards’ bench, staring off somewhere into the upper levels of United Center.
He was soaking up the stunned silence from a crowd that had watched him hit those big shots against their beloved Chicago Bulls in Celtics green, not the red, white and blue he donned Wednesday night.
The three-pointer stretched the Wizards’ lead to 10 points with 4 minutes 10 seconds remaining and served as the start to Washington’s impressive, late-game execution as they escaped with a 105-99 win Wednesday night over their fellow Eastern Conference contender.
The shot also had some historical significance: It was Pierce’s 1,989th career three-pointer, which moved past former all-star point guard and current Milwaukee Bucks Coach Jason Kidd for fourth on NBA’s all-time list.
Setting records comes with the territory for the 37-year-old Pierce, having played 1,204 games in 17 seasons. But he remains effective and finished with a team-high 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting. The same holds true for fellow NBA elder Andre Miller, the oldest player in the league at 38, who came off the bench to add seven points.
“They love the game of basketball,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “I think when Paul and Andre decide to retire, they will take it out on a lot of people playing at the YMCA.”
A BETTER ROAD SHOWING FOR BEAL
Through 29 games, there was a stark contrast between Bradley Beal’s shooting efficiency at home and on the road. He has been the sharpshooter, as advertised, at Verizon Center, shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from three. But the numbers plunged to 38.8 percent and 35.2 percent, respectively, in his 12 games away from the District.
United Center immediately felt like a second home Wednesday. The shooting guard made his first three shots in the game’s first six minutes and concluded the first half with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting. He finished the night with 17 points on 8-for-14 shooting. The 57.9 field-goal percentage was his highest on the road this season.
UP NEXT: BROOKLYN NETS
The Wizards are idle Thursday after their impressive back-to-back wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls. They next take the floor against the Brooklyn Nets Friday night to begin a home-and-home mini-series; the teams are slated to meet again Saturday in Brooklyn.
The Nets (16-23) are reeling. They have lost seven straight games.