Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) – Paul Pierce was the man down the stretch
for the Washington Wizards as they took a commanding 3-0 series lead in their
Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Pierce scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter — including a couple
of clutch 3-pointers — to help the Wizards to a 106-99 win over the Toronto
Raptors in Game 3 on Friday night.
Marcin Gortat had 24 points with 13 rebounds, John Wall contributed 19
points and 15 assists and Bradley Beal added 16 points for Washington,
which will look to close out the series at home on Sunday.
No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven
DeMar DeRozan scored 22 of his playoff career-high 32 in the first half to
lead the Raptors, who had won three straight in Washington. Amir Johnson
finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
Kyle Lowry, who fouled out in Game 1 and left Game 2 with an ankle injury,
scored 15 points on 5-of-22 shooting and dished out seven assists.
“From the start of the game to the end of the game I thought our guys
competed. Of course, at the end of the game (the Wizards) made some big
plays,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
Toronto held a one-point lead early in the fourth when Wall drove the lane,
spun to the right and finished with a layup plus the free throw. Beal followed
with a jumper that gave the Wizards a 77-73 lead.
Terrence Ross’ 3-pointer tied the game at 88-88 prior to Otto Porter answering
at the other end with a trey. Washington led by two with just over 2 1/2
minutes left and Porter buried another triple before Pierce canned one from
beyond the arc for a 98-90 lead.
“You’re not playing against chopped liver. Paul Pierce has won an NBA
championship,” Casey said.
The margin was six when Ross picked off an errant pass by Porter and Lowry
finished at the other end with a runner. Following two free throws from
Pierce, Lowry quickly knocked down a contested 3-pointer that cut the Raptors
deficit to three.
Toronto chose not to foul and let the Wizards play out their possession. But
Pierce delivered the dagger with a hesitated 3 with 16.9 seconds left.
“Otto hit two big ones and Paul’s two (3-pointers) at the end were huge.
That’s why we brought him here. He’s not scared of the moment,” Wizards coach
Randy Wittman said.
DeRozan supplied seven points during a 12-2 run that gave the Raptors a 28-18
lead with four minutes left in the first quarter. Washington ended the quarter
with the final seven points to cut its deficit to 35-33.
“They came out blazing. Both teams did actually,” said Wittman. “We didn’t
really settle in until the second.”
Toronto made the first two baskets of the second quarter, but after Patrick
Patterson’s 3-pointer, the Raptors scored just two points over the next 7:14.
The Wizards took advantage with a 13-2 run during the cold spell with Gortat’s
free throw helping them to a 46-42 advantage. Johnson’s layup tied the game
moments later, then Washington closed the half on an 8-2 run for a 54-48
Nene’s layup early in the third pushed Washington’s lead to nine, but the
Raptors chipped away and took a 68-67 lead on Johnson’s layup with under two
minutes left. Wall converted a layup to cap the third-quarter scoring and put
the Wizards up 72-70 entering the fourth.
Gortat has seven career playoff double-doubles … Porter had 11 points and
eight rebounds off the bench … The Raptors scored 18 points off 17
Washington turnovers … The Wizards made 36-of-76 shots from the floor.