Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - The Wizards blew a 21-point lead without their best player, then won the game with their oldest.
John Wall celebrated Saturday's win over the Hawks in a suit, his broken hand and wrist in a splint.
Paul Pierce celebrated on his back, his arms raised in the air.
Pierce banked in a shot at the buzzer to save Washington, which let a massive lead slip away in the last 10 minutes of Game 3 against top-seeded Atlanta.
The Wizards played without Wall for a second straight game and dominated most of the way, but needed Pierce's heroics to come away with a 103-101 victory and a 2-1 lead in the series.
"Had it all the way, huh?" Wizards coach Randy Wittman joked at the start of his postgame news conference.
The Hawks scored 17 straight points in the fourth quarter using bench players and Mike Muscala finally tied the game on a 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds left.
The shot was set up by Dennis Schroder, who scored 16 points in the quarter and was on the floor after slipping when he made the pass back to Muscala.
But Pierce held the ball for a few seconds after an inbounds pass and made his shot over Schroder and Kent Bazemore from just inside the 3-point line on the high left side.
"I've been in that situation many times," Pierce said. "If I miss, we don't want them to be able to call a timeout. So I took my time and got my shot. ... I'm just happy we won. We didn't want it to come down to that, especially how we played for the first 36 minutes, but a win is a win. We'll take it."
The 37-year-old veteran was swarmed by his teammates while he was on his back. Wall celebrated alongside them, jumping up and down outside the scrum despite the five non-displaced fractures in his left wrist and hand that he suffered in Sunday's Game 1 win.
The Wizards had no trouble spreading the ball around without their injured All-Star point guard, whose status for the rest of the series remains up in the air.
They had 27 assists on 37 baskets and got 17 points apiece from Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Nene.
Jeff Teague had 18 points and fellow starters DeMarre Carroll and Al Horford scored 14 and 12 in that order, but the Hawks didn't look competitive until turning to their bench.
The reserves scored 33 of Atlanta's 35 points in the fourth quarter. Schroder finished with 18 in the game, Mike Scott scored eight and Muscala and Kent Bazemore added seven each. Paul Millsap, a regular starter, came off the bench because he was feeling sick and scored eight points in 23 minutes.
"I'm very proud of that group, the way they competed and got us back in the game," said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. "There's a lot to look at in the first three quarters."
Game 4 is Monday in Washington.
Pierce's winner came a day after Derrick Rose banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Chicago to a win over Cleveland in the other Eastern Conference series.
"It was a lucky shot and we lost the game," said Schroder.
It was shocking that it even came to that for the fifth-seeded Wizards.
The Hawks showed some rust after three days off following their 106-90 win in Game 2 on Tuesday. They shot just 40 percent over the first three quarters, but Scott scored six points during the 17-0 run and Schroder added five to get them within 94-91 with three minutes left, setting up the finish.
Earlier, Teague received a Flagrant-1 foul late in the first half after whacking Beal across the head with his forearm trying to block Beal's shot.
Beal crashed into the stanchion behind the basket but made both free throws and Porter followed with a 3-pointer to push Washington's lead to 18.
Beal had seven of Washington's 15 assists in the first half, while Atlanta made just 16 shots.
Teague and Beal collided again in the third quarter when the Wizards guard fouled Teague hard. Teague's response drew a technical foul, but his foul shots also drew the Hawks as close as they got in the quarter -- within nine.
The Wizards extended their lead to 19 by the end of the third and got it as high as 21 two minutes into the fourth.
Pierce finished with 13 points and Marcin Gortat had 14 ... Earlier in the game, Pierce went down grabbing his right shoulder after fouling Carroll on a drive near the basket in the first quarter. He subbed back in after about six minutes ... Pero Antic, who started in Millsap's place, missed all four of his shots and scored one point ... Ramon Sessions started in place of Wall again and scored eight.