All of about 2 1/2 minutes into the game Youth Chris Herndon Jersey , Washington forward Markieff Morris and Toronto’s OG Anunoby needed to be separated after a near-fight that drew in other players.
Early in the third quarter Friday night, Raptors guard Kyle Lowry was called for a flagrant foul when he swiped a hand across Bradley Beal’s forehead as the Wizards guard went in for a breakaway layup. Later in that period, things really came close to spiraling out of control, but John Wall’s bodyguard interceded when Washington’s All-Star jawed with Toronto’s Serge Ibaka.
As that scene unfolded on the court, spectators directed ”U-S-A! U-S-A!” chants at the opponents from Canada, and Bruce Springsteen’s ”Born in the U.S.A.” blared over the arena’s speakers. Amid all the ruckus, Beal and Wall kept their heads and helped the Wizards pull further and further away for a 122-103 victory.
What was once a dull, lopsided series is suddenly quite interesting.
Beal heeded his coach’s plea to ”do his job” by scoring 21 of his 28 points in the first half, Wall delivered 28 points and 14 assists, and the eighth-seeded Wizards cut their Eastern Conference first-round playoff deficit to 2-1.
”We’re not going out to try to box every game,” Beal said, before describing Morris as ”a bully with a smile.”
Added Beal: ”We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves.”
After letting the Raptors grab the first 2-0 series lead in franchise history, the Wizards came home and checked off every box coach Scott Brooks presented. They got Beal more involved after he made only three shots in Game 2; they actually led after the first quarter LeSean McCoy Bills Jersey , 30-29; they produced 19 turnovers that led to 28 points.
”They came out and punched us,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. ”And we allowed them to.”
He meant that figuratively, of course, but the choice of words sure seemed apt.
The Raptors did appear to take the worse of the physical nature of the game.
DeMar DeRozan, who led Toronto with 23 points, wore a Band-Aid under his right eye afterward. Reserve Pascal Siakam held a bag of ice over a cut on his lip that required three stitches.
”Ain’t nobody fighting out here,” said Lowry, who had 19 points and eight assists. ”I mean, it got physical, but ain’t nobody fighting. It’s a heated moment, but that’s the game of basketball.”
Each team boasts a pair of elite, All-Star guards. This time, Washington’s pair came out on top.
The start initially had the look of ”Here we go again Saquon Barkley Jersey Giants ,” as Toronto moved ahead 27-18. The Raptors, after all, outscored Washington by an average of 11 points in the first period over Games 1 and 2. But this time, Washington responded with a 12-point run capped by Beal’s 3 with under a minute left.
Beal scored 12 in the quarter a day after he, Wall and Brooks met to discuss ways to get Beal more involved in the offense. Entering Friday, Beal was averaging only 14 points in the playoffs, well below his 22.6 average during the regular season.
”We need both our guys to step up,” Brooks said about Beal and Wall. ”It was good tonight.”
Raptors: G Fred VanVleet was out again because of a bruised right shoulder. The reserve missed Game 1, then was available for Game 2, but played only three minutes. ”He looked good in practice and, for whatever reason, it was different in the game,” Casey said. ”Couldn’t really catch the ball. Wasn’t effective shooting the ball or handling the ball. He’ll be day to day.”
Wizards: Had lost seven of their past eight games. … Outshot the Raptors 55 percent to 45 percent on field-goal tries.
NO MO’ MOHAWK
After considering dropping C Marcin Gortat from the starting lineup in favor of F Mike Scott Cheap Billy Price Jersey , Brooks left things as-is. Sure worked out: Gortat responded with his best showing of these playoffs, contributing 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Asked to explain why Gortat fared so well, Brooks joked: ”He got an age-appropriate haircut,” a reference to the center’s decision to shave his mohawk.
Game 4 is at Washington on Sunday night.
The Atlanta Hawks are hiring a young coach in Lloyd Pierce to lead a rebuilding team that is about to add even more youth.
The Hawks announced Friday they are giving Pierce his first head coaching job in the NBA, choosing a man who has been an assistant with Philadelphia and Memphis to rebuild the franchise.
”It was critically important to find a dynamic teacher who could connect with and develop our young core while instilling the culture and high standards we feel are necessary in a successful program,” Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said in a statement. ”Lloyd Pierce checks every box, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading the Atlanta Hawks into the future.”
The Hawks have scheduled a Monday news conference to introduce Pierce.
Pierce, 42, spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach in Philadelphia where the 76ers just reached the Eastern Conference semifinals after finishing third in the conference with a 52-30 record. Pierce also spent two years as assistant coach with Memphis Grizzlies, including 2013 when they reached the 2013 Western Conference finals.
”This is a day I’ve been working toward for a long time and it’s an honor to be the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks,” Pierce said. ”I have great respect for Travis and strong belief in his plan to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta. After spending time with ownership, it’s clear they have a deep investment in and commitment to making this a model organization. This opportunity is a perfect fit for me, and I’m eager to get started.”
More youth is coming in the June 21 NBA draft. The Hawks have three first-round picks Falcons Justin Bethel Jersey , so the rebuilding effort will gain momentum.
Pierce also has been an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors in 2010-11, and he was assistant coach for player development with Cleveland between 2007-10, which included three playoff berths and a spot in the 2009 Eastern finals. Pierce started as an assistant coach at his alma mater at Santa Clara between 2002 and 2007. He played four seasons with two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash a teammate.
Once the decision was made to part ways with former coach Mike Budenholzer, who was interviewing for other jobs, Schlenk emphasized he would seek a replacement to work with such young players as center John Collins and forward Taurean Prince.
Pierce replaces Budenholzer who left last month after five seasons with Atlanta . The Hawks went 24-58 this season, which was worst in the Eastern Conference and tied with Dallas for the NBA’s third-worst record. But they were rarely blown out, losing 21 games by fewer than 10 points with only seven losses by 20 or more points.
The last-place conference finish followed 10 straight playoff appearances. The Hawks hit bottom after the team that won 60 games only three years ago gradually lost such starters as Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague.
When outlining his plan last month to search for Budenholzer’s replacement, Schlenk emphasized he wanted to hire a coach best-suited to work with young players.
”Obviously one of the things that’s most important is having a coach who’s going to connect with our young players, continue to develop our young players,” he said. ”That’s going to be a big part of it.”
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