The Truth was revealed a fraction of a second too late to save the Wizards.
Atlanta defeated Washington 94–91 in Game 6 on Friday when a potential game-tying three-pointer by Paul Pierce was waved off at the buzzer. A video replay of Pierce's miraculous three-pointer determined the ball was still in Pierce's hands when time expired. That ruling ended Washington's season and sent Atlanta to its first conference finals appearance since 1970.
With 6.4 seconds left and Atlanta leading 94–91, Washington inbounded the ball from the left sideline. John Wall took the initial pass and looked indecisive for multiple beats, as he sought out a pass to one of his teammates while dealing with heavy pressure from DeMarre Carroll. Eventually, Wall dribbled to the top of the key and swung the ball to Pierce, who was set up at the left angle.
Pierce received the ball and immediately headed toward the left corner, with Al Horford and Kyle Korver doing their best to contest his shot. An unorthodox side-step freed Pierce just enough for his desperation shot attempt, and he launched while leaning to his left. His try swished through cleanly, much to the delight of the Verizon Center crowd.
It was all downhill from there. The replay review was able to isolate the exact moment when time expired, and Pierce's fingertips were still in contact with the ball. The officials made the correct call, leaving the home crowd and the Wizards bench in disbelief.
[daily_cut.NBA]The shot nearly extended what has been an incredible stretch of late-game heroics for Pierce in the playoffs. The 37-year-old forward hit a huge shot against the Raptors in the first round ("That's why they brought me here!") and he nailed a game-winner over the Hawks in Game 3 ("I called game!"). Pierce also nearly had a game-winning three-pointer in Game 5, but Horford answered with a game-winning putback in the closing seconds.
Carroll led the Hawks with 25 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague each added 20 points for Atlanta.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 29 points, six rebounds and three assists. Wall had 20 points, 13 assists and six rebounds despite a hand injury.
Top-seed Atlanta advances to face No. 2 Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 1 is set for Philips Arena on Wednesday.