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Monday’s NBA playoffs: Hawks even series with Wizards

Paul Newberry
Associated Press

Atlanta — In a year when the geezers are coming up big in the NBA playoffs, add another one to the list.

Jose Calderon might be the most unlikely of all.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, picked up on waivers late in the season, made a huge contribution to help the Atlanta Hawks pull away from the Washington Wizards 111-101 on Monday night, evening the opening-round series at 2-all.

Answering the call when Denis Schroder got in early foul trouble, Calderon played 20 minutes, scored 10 points and dished out five assists. The former Piston joined some old-timers such as Utah’s Joe Johnson and Houston’s Nene making significant contributions in the postseason .

Afterward, Calderon sat alongside Dwight Howard at the postgame news conference, a sign of the major role they both played.

That’s to be expected from Howard, an eight-time All-Star who finally showed up in the series.

Not so much from Calderon, whose hair is thinning on top.

“I always think I’m going to be on the podium,” he quipped, actually managing to hold back a smile for a second or two. “Just stay ready.”

Howard had his best game of the postseason, putting up a double-double by halftime and finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Paul Millsap bounced back from a sluggish start to score 19 points. And Schroder, after going scoreless in a first half spent largely on the bench, managed to put up 18 points.

The Hawks had seven players in double figures, also getting a huge contribution off the bench from Kent Bazemore, who had 16 points and doled out seven assists.

But Calderon was the one who really made a difference. The Hawks outscored the Wizards by 29 points when he was on the court.

“He came in, played well, took care of the game,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s just a winner. He makes winning basketball plays for whatever team he’s been on.”

Bradley Beal scored 32 points for Washington, bouncing back from a dismal performance in Game 3, and John Wall had another stellar performance with 22 points and 10 assists.

Those two, as good as they were, couldn’t match a more balanced approach by the Hawks.

Now, a series marked by ill feelings that went so far as Markieff Morris calling Millsap “a crybaby” is down to a best-of-three. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Washington.

“We’ve got home court for a reason,” Wall said. “It’s an opportunity for us to go home, take care of what we need to do and come back here on Friday.”

Millsap and Schroder helped the Hawks pull away down the stretch.

After snatching an offensive rebound, Millsap managed to get the shot off while being knocked on his backside, the ball dropped in, and he added the free throw for a 3-point play . Schroder followed with a 3-pointer, giving the Hawks a 103-93 lead with 4½ minutes to go.

Of course, it helped that Howard finally made an appearance in the series .

Having taken only 15 shots and scored 18 points in the first three games, he carried the load with Millsap struggling in the first half and Schroder watching from the bench. The enigmatic center had thunderous dunks on back-to-back possessions that really got the home crowd into the game.

More Eastern Conference

(At) Toronto 118, Milwaukee 93: Norm Powell scored a career playoff-high 25 points, Kyle Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists and Toronto beat Milwaukee in Game 5 of the first-round playoff series.

Serge Ibaka scored 19 and DeMar DeRozan had 18 for the Raptors, who can advance to face defending champion Cleveland in the second round with a victory in Game 6 at Milwaukee on Thursday night.

Many in the sellout crowd of 20,251 rose to their feet and chanted ‘Raps in six’ in the final minute of the game.

Toronto lost Game 6 on the road at Indiana in the first round and at Miami in the second round last year, rebounding to win Game 7 at home each time. They were eliminated in six games in the Eastern Conference Final against the Cavs, losing at home in the clincher.

DeMarre Carroll scored 12 points as all five Raptors starters reached double figures. Cory Joseph had 10 points off the bench for Toronto.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 30 points and nine rebounds while Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points and Greg Monroe had 11. Milwaukee has lost back-to-back games after routing Toronto 104-77 in Game 3.

Western Conference

Golden State 128, (at) Portland 103: Stephen Curry had 37 points before sitting out the final quarter and the Warriors welcomed back teammate Kevin Durant to sweep their first-round playoff series.

The Warriors advanced to the conference semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of the series between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, which is tied at 2.

Golden State played for the second straight game without coach Steve Kerr, who has been experiencing a flare-up of symptoms stemming from back surgery a couple of years ago. Assistant Mike Brown has served as head coach in Kerr’s absence.

Durant hadn’t played since Game 1 because of a strained left calf. He started and the Warriors built a 72-48 lead by the end of the opening half.

Golden State pushed the margin to 33 points in the second half. Curry swished a 31-foot 3-pointer that made it 104-77 late in the third quarter and the Blazers couldn’t catch up.

Durant finished with 10 points in 21 minutes. All of Golden State’s starters were in double figures.

Damian Lillard scored 34 points for the Blazers, who were making their fourth straight appearance in the playoffs.

The Warriors jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the start. Durant’s dunk extended the lead to 22-3 and the rout was on. JaVale McGee made a highlight-reel alley-oop dunk in route to a 45-22 lead after the opening quarter.

It was the most points ever in a quarter for Golden State in a playoff game, and matched the NBA record for most first-quarter points in a playoff game.