Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - After blowing a fourth-quarter lead, the Washington Wizards only allowed four points in overtime in their 93-86 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
The fifth-seeded Wizards led by as many as 15 in the fourth quarter but could not hang on. But in overtime, they limited Toronto to 2-of-9 shooting and 0-of-4 from 3-point range.
Paul Pierce scored five of his 20 points in overtime to pace Washington. Bradley Beal added 16 points and Nene scored 12 with a game-high 13 rebounds.
"The key is winning four games, but I think when you win game one on the road, it kind of sets the tone," said Pierce.
Toronto has reached the postseason seven times in franchise history, and it lost its opening game for the seventh time.
Amir Johnson led the fourth-seeded Raptors with 18 points off the bench and was a part of a second unit that outscored Toronto's starters by a 48-38 margin. DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points and added 11 boards and six assists.
"We missed a lot of easy shots as a team," said DeRozan. "Overall, I still thought we played well. We played great defense. We just got outrebounded."
Toronto will host Game 2 of the series on Tuesday.
Although Washington's young backcourt of Beal and John Wall received the bulk of the attention, it was the 37-year-old Pierce that spurred the Wizards' comeback early in the game. They were down 36-29 when he made his first shot of the day, a 3 with 6:16 left in the second period. Shortly after, he scored seven points in a 9-0 run that gave Washington its first lead at 43-38.
Up 46-42 at the half, Washington's defense continued to frustrate the Raptors in the third quarter. Toronto shot just 7-of-25 in the period, missed all seven 3-point attempts and did not have an attempt at the free-throw line.
With a 65-56 lead with 12 minutes to play, the Wizards expanded the margin to 15 points thanks to a 9-3 run to open the final quarter. After Drew Gooden's tip-in put them up 74-59, it was Washington's offense that went cold as the Raptors clawed their way back into the game.
A quick 7-0 Toronto run got it within eight, and Lou Williams hit a pair of triples around a Beal free throw to cut the deficit to 77-75 with 2:55 left. Beal made an acrobatic three-point play to extend Washington's edge back to five, and the lead was again five when Wall answered Greivis Vasquez's floater with a layup.
With time running down, Vasquez pulled up for 3 at the top of the key with 25.9 seconds left that tied the game at 82-82. Wall missed a jumper that could have won the game in regulation, and Terrence Ross could not complete an alley-oop pass from Vasquez on the inbounds pass with less than a second left.
Pierce began the scoring in overtime with a 3 on the opening possession, and Washington was up 89-82 after Otto Porter's shot with 36.9 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, DeRozan's dunk finally got the Raptors on the board in the extra session after they missed their first seven attempts from the field.
Wall hit a layup at the other end, and Vasquez scored for Toronto before the Wizards dribbled the clock out.
Neither team could find an offensive rhythm at the start of the game. Toronto led 8-7 through seven minutes before the game opened up in the period's last five minutes. Johnson's shot with 28 seconds to play gave the Raptors a 23-19 lead after one.
Washington's reserves kept the Wizards in the game. After Beal's layup with 2:52 left in the first cut Washington's deficit to 14-13, no Wizards starter scored until Marcin Gortat's layup with 7:01 to go in the second. Johnson's bucket that followed gave the Raptors a 36-29 lead.
This is the first postseason meeting ever between these teams ... Toronto swept the three-game season series ... Washington has won the first game in its last three playoff series ... The Raptors have not advanced past the first round since 2001 ... The Wizards were 4-4 in overtime in the regular season, while Toronto was 4-3 ... Patrick Patterson, Vasquez and Williams all finished with 10 points for the Raptors ... Kentucky coach John Calipari was in attendance with two former players, Patterson and Wall, going head-to-head.