ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — In Game 3 of their series against the Washington Wizards, the Atlanta Hawks mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback, only to lose on a game-winning buzzer-beater from Paul Pierce. And not only was it a game-winning buzzer-beater, it was a game-winning buzzer-beater off of the glass. As Pierce said later, he didn’t call glass, he called game. Pierce joined Chicago’s Derrick Rose, who also hit a game-winning buzzer beater, also off the glass, to beat the Cavaliers.
How to deal? Well, the Hawks suggested perhaps we should just ban using the glass on buzzer-beaters altogether. If you’re a Hawks or Bulls fan, you can support this movement by signing their iPetition. OK, so it’ll never work, but still, as coping mechanisms go, this one is rather humorous.
Did you call bank? Paul Pierce was asked after putting the dagger in the Hawks.
“I called game,” he responded.
Perfect. And clutch. And another part of his Hall of Fame legacy. And a funny summation.
Pierce hitting the 21 footer — off glass — to give the Wizards a 103-101 win Saturday in Washington and a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals was everything, delivering in the moment and also the emotional boost of a close victory, or any victory, with All-Star John Wall sidelined by a broken left hand.
Pierce supplying a much-needed veteran presence in the wake of the emotional hit of losing Wall would have been plenty. It really would have been a big contribution as the Hawks charged back from a 21-point deficit with about 10 minutes to play. The shot, though, was a highlight moment even for a player who has had so many through the years.
It wasn’t just a clutch shot. It was a tough shot, slightly fading away and under defensive pressure from Dennis Schroder. Pierce was near the top of the free-throw circle, took a one-bounce dribble to his left and elevated with the additional clearance at 6 foot 7 over the 6-1 Schroder. Kent Bazemore came over for the double team, but it was too late. The ball was away.
Pierce shouldn’t have been needed to play the hero. The Wizards were up 21 early in the fourth quarter, until the Hawks went on a 17-0 run to close within three points with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining. When Mike Muscala connected from behind the arc with 14.1 seconds left, Atlanta had erased the entire deficit. It was 101-101, setting the stage for Pierce.
Rhetorical question, right?
Pierce’s momentum took him backward and to the court, where he stayed, on his back with his arms up and outstretched. Bradley Beal, the first teammate to get there, stood over Pierce and delivered a series of soft punches to the gut and chest — right, left, right, left, right. The other Wizards charged over to mob him, including Wall in suit and tie, as the crowd exploded in delight. The shot was the thing, but high marks for the reaction as well.
Five Horrys, because five is the limit. This should break the scale, though. Five isn’t enough. Ten wouldn’t be enough. Maybe 34 would be.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Paul Pierce is on a roll. The Washington Wizards may have underwhelmed in the regular season, but Pierce and the Wiz swept the Toronto Raptors in four games in their first round series, which gave Pierce the chance to troll our neighbors to the north.
And now, with some time on their hands before the next round of the playoffs, Pierce and his Wizards teammates went to last night’s Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders hockey game. And since they were in the front row, when given the chance to taunt the visiting Caps Islanders, Pierce couldn’t help himself…
And whether it was Pierce’s influence or not, the Caps won and advanced to round two, the first time the Caps and Wiz have both been in the second round in the same season.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — It’s not entirely clear what’s happening here, other than President Obama, several members of the Washington Wizards, and a bunch of kids are involved in some sort of shooting contest on a court at the White House. As the video starts, a bunch of people take shots and President Obama sinks his jumper. And then Obama goes over to Paul Pierce and makes sure he knows about it.
The 24-year-old guard from Raleigh, N.C. continues to elevate his game, entering the second week of the New Year leading the NBA in assists. He has not only usurped reigning dimes champion Chris Paul, but he has eclipsed his previous high average set last year at 8.8 per game.
Wall is posting 10.3 helpers a night, finding teammates through getting deep in the paint, waiting until the last second to unload to Marcin Gortat or Nene or Kris Humphries on a cut. If that’s not there, then he can dart his eyes toward the wings, where Paul Pierce, Bradley Beal and Rasual Butler are usually waiting with a clear look at the rim.
Elite athleticism and speed gives him the ability to maneuver in traffic and adjust to contact. Steadily improving court vision allows him to find the open man. His 6-foot-4 frame can absorb more punishment than most. Add his studious approach to the game and we have a guy poised to rank among the best of a Golden Age of NBA point guards for a good minute.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Here’s an ingenious video where two Wizards at different stages in life try and identify baby food flavors. Otto Porter is a second-year player and still a bachelor, while Paul Pierce is in his late-30s and, according to Wikipedia, is a married father of three. So clearly, Pierce has an advantage here. Respect to Porter, though, for casting a wide net with his final answer: “Vegetables.” I mean, technically he’s right.
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Halloween has come and gone, which means it’s time once again to see what some NBA players went dressed as this year. We already checked in on the Oklahoma City Thunder, but let’s check out the costumes of some other NBA players…
LeBron James went as Flo from the Progressive Insurance ads…
Carmelo Anthony was…I don’t know what this costume is…
ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — During last night’s Knicks/Nets game, cameras caught several members of the Nets looking as though…well…let’s just say something appears to smell bad. Shake your head, Joe Johnson…