WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards reacts to a play during the game against the Toronto Raptors in Game Three of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
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Wizards take Game 3 over Raptors, 122-103

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With their backs against the wall in Game 3, the Wizards responded with a resounding and definitive victory over the Raptors, 122-103. It was a heated contest on Friday night in the nation’s capital, with the Wizards protecting home court.

The Wizards shot 55.3% in a physical game, as John Wall and Bradley Beal each scored 28 points to lead the Wizards. Wall added 14 assists to his big night, while Marcin Gortat finished with 16 points in a key performance.

The Raptors came out with an early 27-18 lead, a theme so far in this series. DeMar DeRozan had a quick start for the Raptors, and the 3-pointers were falling once again. Unlike the first two games, the Wizards had a long-term response to this Toronto run.

Energized by Kelly Oubre Jr., Ian Mahinmi, and other second unit players, the Wizards went on a 40-18 run over the next several minutes. Washington scored 39 points in the second quarter, anchored by Wall and Beal’s play and 16-of-23 (69.6%) shooting.

With a 69-61 lead at the half, Wall had 19 points and nine assists and Beal had 21 points already. Washington was able to force turnovers and run, as Toronto went into the half with 13 turnovers for 22 Wizards points and 17 fast break points. The Wizards’ hot shooting and the Raptors’ turnovers were basically what decided the game.

“You turn the ball over 19 times for 28 points," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey explained postgame. "Again your hat has to go off to Washington. They punched us and we allowed them to. Nineteen turnovers, they shoot 55 percent, that is the ball game.”

The Wizards were able to continue their dominance in the second half, shooting 11-of-19 (57.9%) from the field in the third quarter. Gortat gave the Wizards a spark in the third quarter, scoring eight of his 16 points. Washington would lead by as many as 22 points in the second half, outscoring Toronto 53-42 in the final 24 minutes.

“It was great to see everyone clicking and everyone having fun,” Beal said postgame. “This is the playoffs, this is the big stage, this is where you come together through adversity to get a win.”

Wall and Beal’s All-Star play was the story, as the two dueled with the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Washington was able to hold Lowry to 6-of-14 shooting and got him in foul trouble, while DeRozan struggled after his scorching first quarter start. Wall posted up Lowry at will in the second quarter, and Beal was nearly unstoppable most of the game.

“I think for one, just me and Brad [Beal] taking on the challenge of guarding those two guys," Wall said about the All-Star backcourt showdown. "I’m just trying to make it tough for them, stay on all plays. A lot of credit to our other three guys on the defensive end of being in a help position, but also just trying to close out on their shooters. In the first two games we would be in help position but give those guys warm up shots and they were knocking them down. Tonight they made some tough ones early on, but we just stuck with coverages and the changes we made.”

The energy inside the arena gave the Wizards a comfortable home feeling, as fans were loud and engaged in every possession. Scott Brooks mentioned postgame that the crowd was one of the keys to victory. On Sunday, the Wizards will look to even up the series in Game 4. Tip is set for 6:00pm at Capital One Arena, where the Wizards have won seven straight playoff games.

"I thought our crowd was a big part of our win," Brooks said. "That was fun and a really a great environment. We needed every ounce of the energy that they gave us and our guys responded. All of the guys played well."

“At the end of the day, we lost two games," Gortat said. "The first game, we fought all the way to the end. The second game was a terrible effort. At some point we knew it was just going to be winning the one game and getting that momentum just to feel better about ourselves. Now we have it. Hopefully we can carry this over to another game.”

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