No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series, which means the Toronto Raptors, who lost 106-99 on Friday at Verizon Center, should commence booking summer vacations. The Wizards? Their franchise, which has won an NBA championship and been to three NBA Finals, never have led a series 3-0 until now.
In a near miraculous turnabout, the Wizards have continued to dominate a team that has dominated them for the last two seasons. The Raptors won all three-regular season meetings this year and won three of four in 2013-14.
Marcin Gortat benefited the most from the dribble penetration of John Wall, leading the Wizards with 24 points on 11-for-15 shooting, 13 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Wall had 19 points and 15 assists, Paul Pierce 19 points, Bradley Beal 16 and Drew Gooden 12 and Otto Porter 11 off the bench.
DeMar DeRozan scored a series-high 32 points for the Raptors as he made 8 of 10 shots to start but soon went cold. The next highest was Amir Johnson with 14 points. Kyle Lowry hit his first two shots, both three-pointers, to give them a 13-11 lead but went 3-for-20 after that.
TURNING POINT: DeRozan's free throws cut the Wizards' lead to 92-90 until Porter struck with a three-pointer. Then after Lowry forced up a bad shot, Pierce added another long-range bomb for a 98-90 lead with 1:58 left. Lowry had a three to trim it back to 102-99 but Pierce responded with a shot-clock buzzer beater with 16 seconds left for the final dagger.
NUMBERS GAME: The Wizards shot 36-for-76, 47.4%, a 45-41 edge in rebounds and 13-2 in blocked shots.
CHANGE UP: Amir Johnson started at power forward in place of Tyler Hansbrough and it instantly made a difference. The Raptors were minus-30 rebounding in the first two games of the season. Hansbrough grabbed no rebounds in Game 2. Johnson had 12 rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
NEW GROUND: Gooden, who didn't become anything more than a garbage man until recent years offensively, has made four three-pointers in the last two games. In his previous five appearances in the playoffs he was 0-for-14 on long balls. Gooden made 3 of 6 threes in this one and grabbed seven rebounds.
PAUL PIERCE EFFECT: Otto Porter had another one of those understated statistical games until late when he had two crucial three-point shots. He also finished with eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. His denial of DeRozan frustrated the All-Star. DeRozan missed 3 of 19 after the first quarter and with 8:58 left in the fourth quarter Porter made his presence felt. DeRozan drove into the paint and as Gortat stood him up Porter came from behind for the block. Then during he walked to DeRozan during the dead ball to stare him down. DeRozan, however, was hit with a technical.
TELLING STAT: The Wizards' first 10 field goals were all assisted, lead by Wall with five.
MEASURED TRUTH: Pierce only took one shot with 5:39 left in the first half and didn't have a point until his layup on a drive at 2:38 of the second quarter. The Wizards went from trailing 42-39 to 54-48 by halftime with him playing power forward.The Wizards' offense had gone dormant in the fourth when Pierce returned with the score 81-80 with 6:49 left. He hit a quick three-pointer for an 84-80 lead. Then he closed with two more three-point shots and screamed, "That's why I'm here."
UP NEXT: The Wizards likely will practice Saturday and play Game 4 vs. the Toronto Raptors at Verizon Center on Sunday (CSN, CSNwashington.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6 p.m. ET).