HIGHLIGHTS: Wizards Steal Game 1 in OT

HIGHLIGHTS: Wizards Steal Game 1 in OT

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange

Publish Date: April 18, 2015 03:44:55 PM

TORONTO -- One thing the Washington Wizards have going for them is defense.
The Wizards showed that Saturday, except in the fourth quarter when they let a 15-point lead slip away, in winning the opener of their first-round playoff series, 93-86, in overtime over the Toronto Raptors.
"You have to play to your strengths and we feel one of our strengths is our defensive play," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after his team outscored the Raptors, 11-4, in the overtime.
Forward Paul Pierce started the overtime with a 3-pointer and scored 20 points to lead the Wizards.
Wittman talked with his players about the possibility of the playoff opener being an ugly game.
"It could be a pretty game, but if it's an ugly one we have then we have to be able win it with our defense," Wittman said. "It wasn't the most masterful offensive display. ... But our defense, I thought, was really good. Overtime defense was really good."
Raptors coach Dwane Casey liked his team's defense but seeks improved rebounding.
"They had 20 second-chance points," Casey said. "That's the game. ... It's not just our big guys, it's everybody."
The Raptors suffered a blow when point guard Kyle Lowry fouled out with 2:36 to play in the fourth quarter. He had seven points on 2-for-10 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists.
"He'll be OK," Casey said. "He had some good looks that he can make. His timing was a little off, but he will be OK."
Casey felt the key in the overtime was when the Wizards picked up three offensive rebounds in succession.
"We kind of lost our mojo," Casey said.
Guard Bradley Beal added 16 points for Washington and forward Nene contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Wizards also had 10 points each from guard John Wall and center Kevin Seraphin. Forward Drew Gooden grabbed 10 rebounds off the bench and scored six points.
"It takes the pressure off us and it puts it on them," Pierce said.
Forward Amir Johnson came off the bench to lead the Raptors with 18 points and guard DeMar DeRozan added 15 points. Forward Patrick Patterson, guard Greivis Vasquez and guard Lou Williams each scored 10.
The Wizards shot 39.4 percent from the field and the Raptors shot 38 percent. The Wizards had a 61-48 advantage in rebounding, including 19-10 in offensive boards.
"We just got out-rebounded, which is where we could have done a better job," DeRozan said. "There were a lot of times our guards got caught under a big and they got the tip. We missed a lot of easy shots but we still played hard defensively."
The Wizards led by 15 points with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter. Williams hit a 3-pointer with 4:18 to play to cut the lead to four points.
With 2:55 to play, Williams hit another 3-pointer to trim the lead to two.
Beal came back to sink a 17-footer and Lowry fouled him in the process for his sixth of the game. Beal made the free throw and the Wizards led by five points.
Johnson made a layup with 1:24 to play and the lead was down to three.
After Gooden missed an 18-footer and Beal missed from 11 feet, Vasquez hit a 3-pointer with 25.4 seconds left to tie the game, 82-82. After Wall missed a 19-foot jumper, the Raptors took possession with 00.4 seconds left but could not score and the game went to overtime.
After Pierce opened the overtime with his fourth 3-pointer of the game, Nene stretched the lead to five on a dunk with 2:20 to play. Forward Otto Porter made a five-footer with 36.5 seconds left.
DeRozan scored Toronto's first points of overtime on a driving dunk to cut the lead to five with 30 seconds to play. Wall restored the seven-point lead.
Pierce felt that taking some rest down the stretch helped him for the playoffs.
"I think it's paying off, because my knee was bothering me," he said. "Getting that rest down the stretch really let me get my legs back."
Pierce, as usual, was a target of the Raptors fans, just as he was when he was with the Brooklyn Nets, who beat the Raptors in the playoffs last year.
"I've been in a lot of tough environments and this is right up there," Pierce said. "You've got to love these moments. It's one of the best crowds I've been involved with on the road.
The Raptors led, 23-19, after the first quarter and the Wizards led, 46-42 at the half and 65-56 after three quarters.
"There's still a lot of basketball to be played," Casey said. "It's not over, it's not gloom and doom.
NOTES: Raptors coach Dwane Casey feels that last year's playoff experience, losing in the first round to the Brooklyn Nets in seven games, will benefit his team. This time the Raptors have a total of 230 games (39 starts) of playoff experience from 13 players, led by F Tyler Hansbrough (38 games) and G Lou Williams (37). G DeMar DeRozan had his first playoff experience last year. ... The Wizards have a 490 playoff games played with four players who have reached the NBA final -- C/F DeJuan Blair, F Drew Gooden, C Marcin Gortat and F Paul Pierce. Pierce has been on a championship team, the 2008 Boston Celtics, when he was the MVP of the final series. ... The Raptors, who won a franchise-record 49 games in the regular season, were 3-0 against the Wizards this season. ... The second game will be played Tuesday at Air Canada Centre