Bradley’s short takes: Budenzholzer made the right choice

Columnist Mark Bradley gives his thoughts on Saturday’s game:

1. The subs who brought the Hawks back deserved their chance to win the game. Mike Budenzholzer said as much afterward, and he'll get no disagreement from this correspondent. The Hawks' starters were terrible. (Here we note that Paul Millsap didn't start because of flu-like symptoms, but worked nearly 23 minutes.) The starters had their chance to make this a game and punted it away. (Not-so-fun fact: Kyle Korver took three shots the first three quarters, two of those off offensive rebounds.) The only reason this blowout became a buzzer-beater was that the Hawks' bench players showed more professional pride than the regulars. Korver was deployed late in the game and missed what would have been a tying trey; DeMarre Carroll was used for defense. Otherwise, the subs had the floor. Rightly so.

2. Budenholzer saw this game as a teaching tool, and he should. "The way the group that finished played, we're going to have to play like that," he said. There was no reason for the 60-win Hawks to be outclassed by Wizards, who were playing without the injured John Wall, but that's what happened over 3 1/2 quarters. Said Budenholzer: "None of us in our locker room feel great about the way we competed in the first three quarters. … We have a good idea of what we have to do." Then this: "To have a visual of what it takes is always a positive. The feeling that was there for the majority of the game is also there, too."

3. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Paul Pierce is a gamer. If the Wall-less Wizards had landed in overtime after blowing a 21-point lead, they'd have lost this game and more than this game — they'd probably have lost this series in five. For Pierce to bank home the winner after holding the ball for what seemed like forever and allowing Kent Bazemore to join Dennis Schroder in defending the final shot … well, that's big-time. Schroder called it "a lucky shot," but can anything Pierce does be called lucky?