ATLANTA (Georgia) • The Atlanta Hawks picked up veteran point guard Jose Calderon in March as play-off insurance. In Game Four of their National Basketball Association (NBA) first-round post-season series, the Hawks cashed in.
On Monday, the 35-year-old was thrown into a difficult situation when starting point guard Dennis Schroder picked up his third personal foul late in the first half and had to leave the game. Pressed into playing extended time, Calderon wound up with 10 points and five assists in 20 minutes to help the Hawks defeat the Washington Wizards 111-101, levelling the Eastern Conference play-off series at 2-2.
Game Five will be played today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) at Washington.
"One thing I do know about Jose... he's a winner," Washington coach Scott Brooks said of the former New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors guard.
"He was a big part of their win tonight. He came in and played well and took care of the game. He makes winning basketball plays for every team he's been on."
Calderon was not supposed to be with the Hawks. After being released by the Los Angeles Lakers, he was going to sign with Golden State, but that got nixed when Kevin Durant was hurt. The Spaniard then signed with Atlanta and has been a valuable backup for the mercurial Schroder.
"Jose's spirit has been great, and hopefully we can build on how he plays the game," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Schroder, who had no points in the first half when he left with 2min 29sec remaining, saw his fortunes change in the second half. He finished with 18 points.
Paul Millsap won the showdown with Washington's Markieff Morris, who called the Atlanta forward a "cry-baby" after Game Three. Morris had nine points and four rebounds while Millsap totalled 19 points and nine rebounds.
Atlanta had four other players in double figures: Dwight Howard with 16 points, Kent Bazemore with 16, Tim Hardaway Jr with 15 and Taurean Prince with 11.
Washington were led by Bradley Beal with 32 points but John Wall scored a series-low 22 points.
In another Eastern Conference series, the Raptors took a 3-2 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks with a 118-93 victory in Toronto.
Norman Powell, starting for the second time in the best-of-seven series, scored 25 points for the Raptors, who will try to clinch the series in Milwaukee tomorrow.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE