DeMarre Carroll scored 22 points, Kyle Korver bounced back from a miserable first half and the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks held off the Washington Wizards 106-90 on Tuesday night, taking advantage of John Wall's absence to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.
Wall, who finished the series opener with an injured left hand, was a surprising scratch just before Game 2, shortly after the Wizards insisted he would play. Ramon Sessions did an admirable job filling in, leading his team with 21 points, but Washington lost for the first time in these playoffs.
Korver went 1-for-7 from the 3-point line in the first half but kept firing away. He made three 3s after the break, including one from the corner with just under 3 minutes remaining that gave the Hawks a 98-88 lead after Washington had hit consecutive jumpers.
Game 3 is Saturday at Washington.
Washington had won its first five playoff games, sweeping Toronto before shocking the Hawks 104-98 to start the second round.
Even without Wall, the Wizards were competitive in this one until the closing minutes. Paul Pierce hit a 3-pointer and Bradley Beal knocked down another long-range jumper with his foot on the stripe, cutting Atlanta's lead to 95-88.
But the Hawks closed the game on an 11-2 run, finally putting Washington away.
For Carroll, it was his sixth straight game with at least 20 points, giving Atlanta another much-needed offensive lift from its defensive stopper. Al Horford and Paul Millsap had 18 points apiece, with Millsap grabbing 11 rebounds. Korver finished with 12 points — all from beyond the arc — and reserve Kent Bazemore added 10 points.
Beal, playing on a sprained right ankle, had 20 points and seven assists while Pierce and Otto Porter had 15 points each.
Following the pattern of Game 1, the Hawks built an early double-digit lead but couldn't put away the Wizards.
The Hawks had vowed to be more physical and attack the basket, but they settled mostly for jump shots. And unlike Game 1, when there were plenty of open looks, Washington clamped down defensively and made things a lot tougher on the perimeter.
The Wizards were down 53-46 at halftime, briefly tied the game in the third period, and trailed just 80-75 going to the final quarter. Wall cheered on every basket from the bench, hoping the Wizards could pull off an improbable victory without their dynamic star.
They couldn't quite finish the job, but they return home for the next two games.
Wizards: The five-game playoff winning streak was the longest in franchise history. ... With Wall out, Garrett Temple moved into the rotation. He played about 13 minutes and had two points. ... Nene had another dismal game. After going scoreless in the opener, he had only two points and four rebounds. ... Marcin Gortat fouled out with 4:26 left. He had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Hawks: Atlanta has had a double-digit lead in seven of its games this postseason. The Hawks are 5-2 in those games. ... The Hawks hit only 10 of 29 from 3-point range but again did a good job on the boards, outrebounding the Wizards 44-40.
While Wall didn't do any work at practice Monday, there was no indication he wouldn't play in Game 2. During his pregame availability, just 90 minutes tipoff, coach Randy Wittman said everyone was available and he had not considered sitting out Wall.
"The players decide that, how they're feeling, the doctors and all that kind of thing," Wittman said.
Then, the inactive list came out and Wall was on it.
The point guard initially thought he had broken his wrist when he fell along the baseline in Game 1. But X-rays were negative, the hand was taped, and Wall finished out a strong game with 18 points and 13 assists in nearly 39 minutes of playing time.