ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks picked up veteran point guard Jose Calderon in March as playoff insurance. In Game 4 of their first-round postseason series, the Hawks cashed in the policy.
On Monday night, Calderon 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, evening the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at two wins apiece.
Game 5 will be played Wednesday at Washington. Game 6 is set for Friday in Atlanta.
“One thing I do know about Jose — and I don’t know him, but I’ve seen him enough — he’s a winner,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “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 wasn’t supposed to be with the Hawks. After being released by the Los Angeles Lakers, Calderon was going to sign with Golden State, but that got nixed when Kevin Durant was hurt and the Warriors had to go in a different direction.
Calderon then signed with Atlanta and has been a valuable backup and occasional tutor 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 2:29 remaining, saw his fortunes change in the second half.
Schroder finished with 18 points and scored on two 3-pointers, a jump shot and a driving layup in the final four minutes as the Hawks rebuffed the Wizards’ comeback effort. He was 6 of 15 from the field and 4 of 4 at the line with three rebounds.
Paul Millsap won the showdown with Washington’s Markieff Morris, who called the Atlanta forward a “crybaby” after Game 3. Morris had nine points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field and four rebounds. Millsap totaled 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
“Paul is very competitive, but he’s very focused,” Budenholzer said. “He brings physicality to the game — they both do. Paul is in a good place. He’s going to keep playing basketball like he has his whole life, and he’s not going to back down.”
Brooks said Morris has been out of rhythm because of foul trouble the last three games but added, “He’ll bounce back. I’ve got confidence in him, how he plays. I expect him to have a better game in a couple of nights.”
Washington was led by Bradley Beal with 32 points. He made 11 of 23 shots from the floor and 5 of 14 3-point attempts. John Wall scored a series-low 22 points and added 10 assists and five rebounds. Marcin Gortat had a game-high 18 rebounds, and Otto Porter Jr. and Bojan Bogdanovic each scored 13.
Atlanta had four other players in double figures: Dwight Howard with 16 points and 15 rebounds, Kent Bazemore with 16 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. with 15 and Taurean Prince with 11.
Washington turned on the intensity midway through the first quarter, which effectively quieted the raucous Atlanta fans. The Wizards trailed by five points early but went on an 11-0 run and outscored the Hawks 18-4 to lead by as many as nine points. Washington shot 58 percent from the floor in the first quarter and led 35-28.
The Hawks went on a 12-0 run and took a 41-38 lead when Calderon made a 3-pointer with 6:00 left in the half. Atlanta later got back-to-back alley-oop dunks by Howard, who had a double-double by halftime.
The Hawks outscored the Wizards 31-15 in the second quarter and led 59-50 at the half after Calderon drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 9.9 seconds remaining.
“That second quarter we made a lot of defensive mistakes,” Brooks said. “We took a lot of tough shots. We did battle back, tied it up in the third. We made mistakes in that second quarter that we didn’t make in the first quarter.”
Washington immediately got back in the game by opening the third quarter with a 10-2 run. Atlanta briefly built a five-point lead but could not take control. The score was tied four more times before the end of the quarter, which ended 77-77.
NOTES: Atlanta G Tim Hardaway Jr. made three 3-point baskets, which equaled his total from the first three games. … Hawks C Dwight Howard, who had 53 double-doubles in the regular season, collected his first of the series. … Washington F Otto Porter Jr. was back in the starting lineup. He sustained a neck injury during Game 3, left early and did not return. … Wizards C Ian Mahinmi missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained left half. He may be able to return for Game 5.