Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - It was fitting that the sloppiest game of the postseason was decided after a missed shot in the final seconds.
Al Horford's putback layup with 1.9 seconds left gave the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks an 82-81 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night and a 3-2 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.
The game was tied inside 30 seconds when Paul Pierce, who beat the buzzer with a stepback jumper to win Game 3 for the Wizards, tried to penetrate and had the ball poked out by Kyle Korver. That led to a 2-on-1 break for the Hawks, and Horford and DeMarre Carroll made three passes between them before Carroll's layup gave them an 80-78 lead.
Pierce got a chance to redeem himself at the other end and delivered. Out of a timeout, Bradley Beal drove baseline and passed to an open Pierce in the corner for a 3-pointer that put the Wizards back in front with 8.3 seconds left.
The Hawks went to 21-year-old reserve point guard Dennis Schroder, who drove to the basket and delivered an awkward attempt that caromed off the backboard. Horford timed his jump perfectly and skied for the loose ball, securing it and landing before softly finishing the game-winner.
John Wall, who started after missing the previous three games with five non- displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist, put up a halfcourt heave that missed everything at the horn.
The teams combined for 44 turnovers and 9-for-39 shooting from 3-point range in the lowest-scoring game of the postseason so far.
Horford's 23 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks led Atlanta, which can close out the series Friday in Game 6 in Washington. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague scored 14 points apiece, and Carroll had 10 points and 10 boards.
"Everybody is participating," said Horford. "It's all about the team here. We're doing whatever it takes to win the game."
Beal paced the Wizards with 23 points, and Wall posted 15 points and seven assists in 37 1/2 minutes.
Things looked bleak for Atlanta midway through the fourth quarter after a prolonged scoring drought led to a 71-63 Washington lead. The Hawks went 5:26 to open the fourth without scoring a point.
Millsap finally split a pair of free throws and Beal answered with a jumper at the other end. The Hawks took a full timeout at 5:32, and whatever was discussed in the huddle changed the game.
Horford, who drew a foul on Pierce leading into the timeout, made a pair of free throws. On the next Hawks possession, Korver tickled the twine with a deep 3-pointer from the right wing, and Horford followed with a corner 3 that had the Hawks within one.
Schroder, who assisted on both 3-pointers, owned the next portion of the game. He found Horford for a long jumper, then scored on consecutive possessions with a mid-range shot and floater in the paint.
"Turnovers. Turnovers," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "When we were up nine, we gave them too many easy baskets off our turnovers. Let them get right back in the game."
Pierce finally snapped the 14-0 run with a 3-pointer from the left wing, and Marcin Gortat got a layup to go with 51 seconds left to tie the game.
Both teams led by as many as eight points in the second quarter. Mike Muscala came in off the bench and provided a spark for the Hawks, netting eight in the period.
"Muscala is really growing and developing before our eyes," said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer. "In the playoffs, he's found a way to come in and help us."
But Washington went on a 19-4 run, which Pierce capped with a 3 just before halftime. The Wizards led from there until five different players scored during a 10-0 Atlanta run late in the third quarter, but 11 straight points put the visitors back in the driver's seat.
The Wizards were 5-0 with Wall in the lineup this postseason before Wednesday ... It was Beal's 10th 20-point playoff game, giving him the fourth-most in NBA history before turning 22 years old. Only Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker and LeBron James had more ... Only six players scored for Washington.