The NBA is a make or miss league. If you didn’t believe that before Sunday night, you should now. The Raptors set the tone with an 11 point lead early on the back of three Kyle Lowry threes that bounced all around the rim before dropping. But by the end of the third quarter, Washington turned an 11 point deficit into a 40 point quarter with Bradley Beal and Otto Porter combining for 23 points to tie the game at 80.
The Wizards made six threes in the second half and that was the biggest difference in the night. There wasn’t a huge distinction in execution from both teams. They both had stretches where they looked like world beaters and stretches where they looked worse than the Suns.
But in the end, it was the Wizards who came out on top with the win despite adversity in the fourth quarter. They fell down by eight points late before Bradley Beal took off once again. But with about five minutes left to play, Beal fouled out of the game after DeMar DeRozan bulldozed into him.
Bradley Beal fouled out on this tough foul call.pic.twitter.com/lSKUbrRRzK— Sporting News (@sportingnews) April 23, 2018
The Wizards went on a 14-6 run to close the game behind John Wall’s brilliance late on both ends guarding DeRozan, Porter’s hustle, and the Raptors’ poor decision making.
Now the series goes back to Toronto knotted up at 2-2. The Wizards have a legitimate shot and, honestly, that’s as much as anyone could’ve asked for at the end of the year.
To the notepad:
Pascal Siakam is dangerous
But you wouldn’t be able to tell it from the box score. He only finished with three points and was 1-4 shooting, but he guarded Wall throughout the game when he was on the floor and did an admirable job. The Raptors forced Wall into a ton of bad midrange jumpers and bogged their offense down when they couldn’t figure out how to attack the mismatch. The Raptors might continue that in game five.
Bradley Beal is tremendous
For all the flack we gave him, including myself, for not showing up early in the series, he’s certainly arrived to the postseason now. He hit three straight threes in the third quarter to pull the Wizards back in range after falling down 14 points early. Without Beal, this game isn’t close.
Porter has to be involved, but in the right ways
The Wizards went to Otto Porter for early offense in the first quarter and it didn’t work out. He started the game 0-4, but as my colleague Kevin Broom points out, quality of looks was an issue.
I don’t really agree. He’s gotten some tough looks. They’re not running anything to get him open looks.— Probably Wrong (@Broom_Kevin) April 22, 2018
Broom is right — the Wizards weren’t running the right sets with Porter. They were giving him the ball at the top of the arch and asking him to make a play. That’s just not his game, and it shouldn’t be. In the second half he went off for 11 points and part of that was a function of the type of shots. Two threes in transition from John Wall, a midranger and another pull-up three he stepped cleanly into. Get Porter the right shots, and he’s great. He should shoot the ball way more, too.
One big thing:
DeRozan didn’t make a shot early, but took 12 free throws in the first quarter. The Wizards escaped with a win today and only held him to 18 free throws in the game after he started hunting them. But if they’re going to be effective in Toronto, Washington can’t allow that to happen again.
Enjoy the carnage
Wall caught two bodies today.
Here’s a closer look of John Wall’s dunk . pic.twitter.com/7PDt8URQxo— At The Buzzer (@AtTheBuzzer321) April 22, 2018
And here’s the other:
John Wall poster dunk counter: 2 pic.twitter.com/txkb3kZ8Ns— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 22, 2018
See you in Toronto.