Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Paul Pierce had an eternity to survey his potentially game-tying 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to go.
Except there was no bank this time, just the back of the rim.
Jeff Teague had 26 points and eight assists and the Atlanta Hawks held off the Washington Wizards 106-101 in Game 4 to tie their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Trailing 104-101, Wizards coach Randy Wittman called timeout with 9.5 seconds left. Nene provided a stiff screen at the top of the key on Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll, allowing Pierce to dart to the right wing unabated. Pierce flailed his legs on the release, but the shot harmlessly drew iron.
"The open one is always the hardest one to make," Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who scored a playoff career-high 34 points, said.
Pierce's step-back jumper at the buzzer lifted Washington to a Game 3 win.
Paul Millsap sunk a pair of free throws at the other end to seal the outcome.
Game 5 is Wednesday in Atlanta.
Millsap finished with 19 points and five rebounds, Al Horford posted 18 points and 10 boards and Dennis Schroder added 14 points and eight assists off the bench for top-seeded Atlanta, which tallied 30 assists on its 41 made baskets.
"Their guards broke us down too much," Wittman said.
The Hawks outscored Washington 32-16 in the paint and shot 59.1 percent in the first half to help them build a 10-point cushion at the break.
"That's how we play," Millsap said of the points in the paint disparity. "We attack."
Washington used a spurt in the beginning stages of the third quarter to get within one, but Atlanta responded by pulling away again and the Wizards didn't get close again until the final minute.
"We weathered that storm," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Our bench is important to us and helped us during that stretch."
Teague rose up and nailed a seemingly backbreaking right wing triple with 1:12 left to stake Atlanta to a 104-97 edge. Beal, however, drove to the basket for a layup and Pierce found Nene for a dunk a possession later to make it a three-point game with 36.7 ticks on the clock.
Schroder attempted to drive the right wing on Beal at the other end, but Beal stripped him momentarily before blocking his layup attempt. Ramon Sessions corralled the loose ball and called timeout for the Wizards.
Pierce netted 22 points for fifth-seeded Washington, which made 10-or-more 3- pointers for the sixth time in eight playoff games after doing so just seven times during the regular season.
The Wizards were 12-of-26 from beyond the arc.
Washington played its third consecutive game without All-Start point guard John Wall, who has five broken bones in his left hand and wrist after a Game 1 injury. His status for the rest of the series remains up in the air.
"We won one game without John," Beal said. "We can do it again."
The Hawks held an 18-2 advantage in the interior and led 29-26 heading into the second. Washington, meanwhile, knocked down 6-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc in the opening frame.
Neither team was up by more than four before Atlanta used a 10-3 spurt to create some distance. Millsap's layup and pair of free throws capped the swing and staked it to a 44-36 margin at the 7:52 mark of the second.
A pair of hard Will Bynum takes to the basket trimmed the gap back to four, but the Hawks surged again, this time with a 14-4 burst. Teague hit a 3- pointer during the flurry, which he helped finish off when he found Mike Muscala for an alley-oop dunk along the left baseline, extending the cushion to 58-44.
Atlanta was up 65-55 going into the locker room.
"We can't give up 60-plus points," Beal said. "We weren't mentally focused."
Washington scored the first nine points of the third to whittle the margin to a point. Sessions found Pierce for a layup to conclude the spurt and make it a 65-64 game.
The Hawks, though, countered with an 11-3 run. Horford's jumper finished it off and extended the spread back to 76-67 midway through the period.
A pair of Schroder foul shots in the waning seconds of the third gave them an 85-75 lead.
Atlanta's 65 points in the first half were the fifth most in its franchise's playoff history ... Pierce made his first five shots from long distance, but missed his last two ... The Hawks scored 19 points off 17 Washington turnovers ... The Wizards outscored Atlanta 32-16 in the paint in the second half.