WASHINGTON (AP) – When Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal fouled out with about five minutes left in a tied Game 4 against the Toronto Raptors, he couldn’t believe the call.
He raced to the other end of the court. When he returned to his team’s sideline, he threw a red towel, before being held back by teammates.
“I was beyond emotional. Beyond mad. Frustrated. Pretty much any synonym you can add,” Beal said. “I told my team that we were going to win, regardless. Especially if we’ve got John still in the game, I love our chances.”
That would be John Wall, and Beal was exactly right. Wall took over down the stretch after his backcourt mate was done for the day, scoring or assisting on 10 of Washington’s last 14 points as the No. 8 seed Wizards came back to beat the No. 1 Raptors 106-98 Sunday night and even their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at 2-all.
“When Brad went out,” Wall said, “I knew I had to do whatever it took.”
Wall finished with 27 points and 14 assists and, at the other end of the court, guarded All-Star DeMar DeRozan, making sure the Wizards would not be pushed to the brink of elimination ahead of Game 5 at Toronto.
“He’s a big shot maker. A playmaker. It was what you want and what you expect,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “We needed him to step up. He stepped up big.”
This was a game the Raptors led by 14 points early in the second half. But as their offense bogged down, the Wizards clawed back.
It was 92-all when Beal – who led Washington with 31 points – drew his sixth foul on a play in which he and DeRozan collided while Toronto had the ball.
Asked whether the official told him why that call was made, Beal replied: “He wasn’t explaining that one. There was no explaining to do.”
Wizards center Marcin Gortat’s view of the officiating: “I truly believe that some of those calls are very soft. I’ve never seen so many soft calls in the playoffs.”
After Beal left, the Raptors immediately went up by two, but Wall pulled the Wizards even with a layup that drew a goaltending call, then put the hosts in front to stay by feeding Markieff Morris for a layup off the glass.
With Beal cheerleading, jumping and waving his arms, Wall just kept producing, showing no signs of fatigue despite playing all 24 minutes in the second half. This is a guy who missed about two months of the regular season because of surgery on his left knee.
While the closing seconds ticked away, Wall held up two fingers on each hand: Yes, it’s 2-2 now, and the best-of-seven series has become best-of-three.
The Raptors were up 51-40 at halftime, and increased that advantage early in the third quarter. But the game was tied at 80 entering the fourth, and Toronto only scored 18 in the last period.
“We couldn’t get a stop,” DeRozan lamented. “And we couldn’t get a bucket.”
He had 35 points, six assists and six rebounds, but he started 0 for 6 and wound up 10 for 29, acknowledging afterward: “I took some bad shots.”
Noted Kyle Lowry, who scored 19 for Toronto: “We didn’t completely stick with our offense.”
Raptors: Now 0-4 all-time in Game 4 when up 2-1. … Starter OG Anunoby limped off late in the second quarter. He returned in the third quarter, but sat out all of the fourth. … Backup PG Fred VanVleet was out with an injured right shoulder.
Wizards: Won their eighth consecutive playoff home game. … Wall entered Game 4 averaging 26.7 points and 12.7 assists in the series. He could become only the third player in NBA history to put up 25 points and 10 assists per game in multiple postseasons, joining Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
Raptors coach Dwane Casey declared before tipoff: “Taking care of the ball is our No. 1 priority.” And then his team went out and had 18 turnovers, only one fewer than in Game 3. “You can’t explain them,” Casey said. “They’re out of character.”
PORTER SHOWS UP
After languishing through an 0-for-4, one-point first half, Wizards SF Otto Porter Jr. scored eight in the first 3Â½ minutes of the third quarter, including a pair of 3s. He finished with 12 points.
Game 5 is at Toronto on Wednesday night.
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