TORONTO — The Washington Wizards heard a torrent of boos in the closing seconds of Game 5 Wednesday night inside Air Canada Centre.
The Toronto Raptors fans didn’t appreciate how their party was interrupted with a hard foul by Markieff Morris and a meaningless late bucket by Kelly Oubre Jr.
If only Washington could have done more in the final nine minutes to silence the roars. One shot or one fewer turnover might have done it. Instead, a fourth-quarter breakdown led to Washington’s collapse in the pivotal game.
The top-seeded Raptors took control of this best-of-seven first-round NBA playoff series with a 108-98 win for a 3-2 series lead. The series shifts back to Capital One Arena on Friday, and the eighth-seeded Wizards stand one loss away from elimination.
When asked to gauge his team’s chances of returning Sunday to Toronto for Game 7, John Wall answered with assurance.
“We love our chances,” Wall said. “We’re very confident. . . . It’s the best out of three, and for somebody to win the series they got to win on the road.”
The Wizards had a chance to do just that in Game 5 but squandered their best showing — albeit on a poor shooting night — in enemy territory.
Washington led by five points within the final nine minutes to match their largest lead of the night. The team then responded by splitting its next six possessions evenly among missed shots and turnovers. As the Raptors took command with a 24-6 run, the Wizards scored only four field goals over the final 8:52, with a pair of those coming from Bradley Beal and Oubre with less than 17 seconds to play.
“We just missed some shots. We feel like we got a lot of good ones,” Beal said about the Wizards’ 41.1-percent shooting and 5-for-26 mark from three-point range.
“For the most [part], we feel like we didn’t shoot [well] or play a great game and still had an opportunity to win,” Beal continued. “They just made some bigger shots and big momentum plays down the stretch that really hurt us in the fourth.”
Beal scored 20 points but missed five of his six shots in the final quarter. Wall flirted with a triple-double with 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds but turned the ball over seven times. During the Wizards’ final bow, Wall committed a pair of turnovers; one while trying to cram his way through a screen and the other as a possession was ripped away by Delon Wright.
Wright, the backup wing, once again showed up in front of his home crowd, producing 18 points to complement DeMar DeRozan’s game-high 32 and Kyle Lowry’s 17-point, 10-assist night.
“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said, sharing inspiration coupled with a touch of an insult. “You can kind of chalk it up as the same story.”
Though location can make a difference, little separation existed between the teams through much of Game 5.
Washington held a one-point lead after the first quarter. The rotations reflected the importance of the game, as both teams played at least one of their stars for the duration of the quarter. DeRozan stayed on the court and scored 13 points. Wall also played the full 12 minutes and hit a 21-foot pull-up jumper at the buzzer to give the Wizards the 24-23 lead.
By intermission, Toronto clung to a one-point edge. At the end of the third, a late free throw gave the Raptors a 79-78 advantage.
Neither the Wizards’ upper hand in rebounding (38 to 20 after three quarters) nor the Raptors’ long-range shooting (five more threes than Washington) provided either team a cushion. But in the fourth quarter, balance proved to be the difference.
After the Wizards pulled ahead 87-82 on Oubre’s emphatic baseline dunk while getting fouled and the ensuing free throw, the Raptors started their run with 10 points by five different players.
The reserves kicked things off: C.J. Miles knocked down two free throws, then Wright stripped Wall and scored on the other end. Next, the starters contributed their share with Lowry driving in for a layup, DeRozan dunking and center Jonas Valanciunas punctuating the 10-2 burst with another inside basket.
“Up five with still eight minutes, there’s still a lot of basketball left. It’s a lot of stuff going on,” Wall said. “We feel we let one slip away, but at the same time we played aggressive. We just didn’t make shots. They made the bigger shots at the end of the game, and other than probably two or three turnovers that I had, we got all the looks we wanted in the fourth quarter. They just made bigger shots and bigger plays than us.”
— Candace Buckner
Game 5 recap and highlights
*FINAL: Toronto wins Game 5, 108-98, to take a 3-2 lead back to Washington: John Wall has 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and seven turnovers in 44 minutes for the Wizards, whose offense simply couldn’t compete. Bradley Beal had 20 points and Marcin Gortat had 10 points and 12 rebounds as Otto Porter continued to struggle and DeMar DeRozan unleashed 32 points in 39 minutes.
*One last stat: The Wizards’ impressive rebounding edge genuinely gave them a leg up for much of Game 5. But their offense couldn’t back it up against the DeMar DeRozan-led Raptors. Washington leaves with a 49-35 rebounding lead but that’s about it.
*Late-game trouble: The Wizards are 6-for-18 from the field in the fourth quarter. Combine that with 15 turnovers on the game and that spells trouble for Washington. Toronto is on a 19-6 run.
*Is that Valanciunas I see in the fourth? Jonas Valanciunas has been a reliable presence for Toronto early on in games so far this series, but this is perhaps the most impact he’s had in a fourth quarter yet. The big man has 12 points and 10 rebounds and just drew a foul to give Marcin Gortat his fourth.
*Second is the best: A second-unit sequence put the Wizards up four with Kelly Oubre headed to the line thanks to a nice kick from Ty Lawson under the basket out to Oubre in the corner. The pair have had good chemistry all night — Oubre leads the reserves with nine points.
*End of third quarter: Toronto 79, Washington 78: A big third quarter surge from Bradley Beal (17 points) and more of the same from John Wall (22 points, seven rebounds) has the Wizards in fine position to take this in the fourth quarter. Oh, and DeMar DeRozan has 32 points.
Interestingly, the Raptors are the only team in the league this year to have never lost three straight games. The Wizards would love to break that streak.
*Ty Pass-son: In his limited minutes with the Wizards this game, Ty Lawson has done a great job setting his teammates up for good shots. He’s got three assists (tied with Beal) in seven minutes and found Mike Scott for a nice shot to put the Wizards back up by two late in the third quarter.
*Beal surge: It was Bradley Beal’s turn to start things off in the third quarter as he surged to lead the team with 15 points in the first half of the period while John Wall started slow. The Wizards are still hanging right with the Raptors, and need another shooter to help them pull away.
*Toronto strong: There was a moment of silence ahead of Game 5 for the victims of Tuesday’s bus attack in Toronto that left 15 injured and 10 dead. The Wizards also held a black banner that read “Toronto Strong” as part of a moving tribute.
*History maker: With the 12 he scored in the first half, John Wall now has the sixth total points in the playoffs (773) in franchise history.
*HALFTIME: Toronto 48, Washington 47, and this game is way closer than it feels: The Wizards’ aren’t even shooting 40 percent from the field, while the Raptors are shooting 46.2 percent. DeMar DeRozan has 20 points. Toronto is playing fluidly on offense and well on defense. Yet the Wizards are somehow only down one?
Washington’s hanging in there in large part because of John Wall, who has 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Otto Porter Jr. has seven points, but otherwise, this should be a much bigger deficit for the Wizards than it is. Their 27-17 rebounding edge is their only positive on the stats sheet.
*Drought in the North: Bradley Beal’s jumper with just under four minutes to play in the second quarter ended a Washington field goal drought that lasted more than five minutes (the team got one free throw in that time). The Wizards are shooting 36.4 percent from the floor to the Raptors’ 45.7 percent, with Wall and Mike Scott as the only consistent scorers. The team also has seven turnovers.
*Board game: Every starter but John Wall has a negative defensive rating right now, but the Wizards are at least getting the job done on the boards. Washington is out-rebounding Toronto 20-11. Marcin Gortat leads the team with six rebounds.
*Okay, I would just like to point out that “Ty Saucin’” is a pretty fun nickname:
*End of the first quarter: Wizards take a 24-23 lead: John Wall’s buzzer beater caps a 9-2 run to end a so-so first period for Washington. Wall put on quite a show while leading the team with nine points.
*DeDominance: DeMar DeRozan cannot be stopped. The guard has 13 points in 10 minutes and is 4-4 from the free throw line. The Wizards need a scorer (read: Bradley Beal) other than John Wall to get going, and quickly, to help combat the onslaught.
*Quick start: I just sat down, how does DeMar DeRozan have seven points already?! And Otto Porter has two field goals???! I wasn’t ready.
*Running through the six: As it is in nearly every NBA playoffs series, no team has the upper hand until they win on the road. Luckily for the Wizards, they’re one of just six teams in the league that’s defeated the Raptors in Toronto this season — they did so, 107-96, way back on Nov. 5. If they can pull out a win tonight, locking up the series gets a lot easier, statistically speaking. The team that wins Game 5 in a series goes on to win the whole thing 83 percent of the time.
*Hockey night in Canada: Washington fans get to spread their playoff love between three nights this week, with the Capitals playing Thursday and the Wizards in action Wednesday and Friday (at home), Canadians aren’t so lucky. Toronto fans have to divide their attention between the Maple Leafs and Raptors tonight. Tough night for Drake.
Previous series results
Game 6: Friday at Washington, time TBD, NBCSW
Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, April 29, at Toronto, time and television TBD
>> If the Wizards can win two of the last three games of this series, they’ll become just the sixth No. 8 seed in NBA history to beat a No. 1 seed and advance to the second round. Only one other No. 8 seed — the 1994 Denver Nuggets — has pulled off the feat after losing the first two games of the series. No team has done it since the first round expanded to best-of-seven. The Wizards would be the first.
>> The Wizards’ quiet hero? Marcin Gortat. Through four games, Gortat leads all players in the postseason by averaging 6.8 screen assists per game, the statistic that measures how often his blocking moves on the offensive end have created points for teammates.
>> Bradley Beal’s sixth foul in Game 4 felt like a call that would haunt the end of the Wizards’ season. Except, amazingly, it wasn’t. The team that failed to inspire for much of this season, that left you constantly wondering why it couldn’t be a normal, stable playoff team, did something unexpected without Beal in the final five minutes. And this time, it was delightful, writes Jerry Brewer. Meanwhile, John Wall is dictating the rules of engagement. He is making this series a street fight and a street race. It seems an odd combination, but not to him.
>> Speaking of Beal, he’s not speaking about the refs. When the topic of “officiating” came up, Beal’s silent expression said everything. “He doesn’t want to get fined,” joked a team staffer who was standing near the exchange.
>> The Wizards aren’t yet a team that can quietly and methodically play to a standard with consistency. They are an emotional volcano. This first-round series is interesting now because the Wizards have erupted, writes Jerry Brewer.
>> Bradley Beal is back. Friday night, the Wizards guard reclaimed the smooth shooting stroke that elevated him to 13th in the NBA in scoring and resulted in the sixth-year player’s first all-star selection. Another player rising to the occasion in Game 3? Kelly Oubre Jr.
>> On Saturday night, the league announced a $25,000 fine for Markieff Morris for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official.”
>> “If they don’t get to the conference finals, I do believe that a major change has to happen.” That’s former Wizards forward Paul Pierce’s assessment of the team, suggesting John Wall and Bradley Beal possibly “break up.”
>> The Wizards need to turn up the defense if they hope to get back into this series. Problem is, that’s a very big ask. According to Neil Greenberg, the biggest liabilities for Washington in the half court are Kelly Oubre Jr., Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal. All four rank in the bottom 20 percent of NBA players in the postseason for points allowed per possessions and each is hurting the Wizards in different ways.
>> The Wizards didn’t seem disappointed by their Game 2 loss, so Jerry Brewer wonders: maybe they’re too chill for their own good? “It would be understandable if they had reason to brush off the game as an aberration, if they were a team that didn’t have recurring problems with focus and transferring preparation onto the court. But that is part of their enigmatic identity. You needed the reassurance of feeling their emotions and sensing their urgency. You will have to trust them, however. Good luck.”
>> Any way you judge the Wizards — with or without John Wall, at their best or worst, home or road, bickering or harmonious, big game or run-of-the-mill affair — they do one thing with stunning consistency: Flub the fourth quarter. They close games like they are trying to slam the heaviest door ever made. If they don’t summon more late-game strength, their season of what ifs and not quites will end with a few last “We had ’em, but . . . ” regrets, writes Jerry Brewer.
>> John Wall thought he was “fat” when the season opened. During this two-month layoff to rehab from knee surgery, Wall and his personal remolded his diet and body. He’s dropped almost 15 pounds, enabling him to play lighter on his feet. Here’s how that diet looks. Speaking of Wall, Tom Boswell thinks the Wizards star needs to shoot a whole lot less