Pierce, Wizards try for sweep of Raptors

(SportsNetwork.com) – The Washington Wizards will try to sweep the Atlantic
Division champion Toronto Raptors out of the playoffs Sunday when the two
teams clash in Game 4 at the Verizon Center.

No team in NBA history has squandered a 3-0 series lead. The Wizards haven’t
swept a postseason series since the first round back in 1982 when they
defeated the Nets, 2-0. Back then, it was a best-of-three opening round.

After taking the first two in Toronto, the Wizards responded with a 106-99 win
in D.C. Friday night.

Paul Pierce showed exactly why the young Wizards brought in the future Hall of

Pierce scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter — including a couple
of clutch 3-pointers — to help the Wizards to the victory.

Terrence Ross’ 3-pointer tied the game for Toronto 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,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

The margin was six when Ross picked off an errant pass by Porter and Kyle
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.

Marcin Gortat had 24 points with 13 rebounds, John Wall contributed 19 points
and 15 assists and Bradley Beal added 16 points for Washington.

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.

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,” Casey said.

The Raptors haven’t advanced in the playoffs since 2001. Unless they can buck
years of history, they are headed for a second consecutive playoff
elimination, despite being a higher seed. In 2014, the Raptors lost a Game 7
in Toronto to the Nets.

Washington could be headed to the second round as a five seed for the second
straight year. Last season, they knocked off the Chicago Bulls in five games.

If necessary, though, Game 5 would be Wednesday night in Toronto.