Guard DeMar DeRozan knew just how important a win in Game 3 was to his Toronto Raptors. He wanted his teammates to play confident and loose, evident by an uplifting (yet vulgar) five-word message he wrote on the blackboard an hour before tip-off:
Just about an hour to tip-off and DeMar DeRozan writes on the Raptors blackboard: "Fuck It, Let's Get It." It's time to play Game 3.— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) April 24, 2015
It was clear out of the gates that DeRozan took his own words to heart, putting forth an historic offensive onslaught. His 20 points were a Raptors franchise record for a single quarter in a playoff game, surpassing Vince Carter's 19 in the second quarter against Philadelphia from 2001.
It wasn't enough to cover up Toronto's defensive issues, though, as Washington only trailed by two at 35-33 after 12 minutes of action. The Wizards shot a scorching 58.3 percent from the field, with Marcin Gortat contributing 10 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The second quarter wasn't the unmitigated disaster it's proven to be earlier in the series, but it was still enough to cause a great deal of anxiety once again.
John Wall had little trouble getting whatever he wanted driving through the lane, whether it was handing the ball off to Gortat or dishing it out to Bradley Beal on the perimeter. His nine dimes were nearly as many as the entire Raptors team (10).
In fact, eight of Gortat's field goals in the opening half came off of Wall assists.
Jonas Valanciunas was a deer in the headlights, allowing Wall-to-Gortat pick-and-rolls to leave him clueless. It was a poor showing defensively from the Raptors as a whole, but it was Valanciunas in the paint creating several openings that stood out the most.
With the offense drying up (Raptors shot 40.4 percent at halftime), it was the defense that needed to step up to compensate.
Raptors had 14 buckets in the 1st quarter, 15 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters combined— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) April 25, 2015
That improvement came in the third quarter as Toronto held the Wizards to just 18 points, erasing a 59-50 Washington lead. The Raptors had more pep in its step on that end, perhaps realizing that the season would be on life support barring some sort of drastic turnaround in that department.
But then the fourth quarter came. And so did Paul Pierce.
Pierce nails a 3-ball to put Washington up 8 with 1:58 left, because of course. #IT— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) April 25, 2015
Pierce. again. RIP Raptors https://t.co/q5Ly3Wvygd— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) April 25, 2015
Two late dagger three-pointers by The Truth, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter, put the Wizards up for good as Washington took Game 3, 106-99 at the Verizon Center.
Kyle Lowry? A ghost. The All-Star point guard finished with 15 points and seven assists, although it took him 22 shots to get there. His shot selection was disgraceful at times, trying to pick up fouls while hoisting up prayers from the perimeter.
DeRozan missed 15-of-his-last-18 shots with Otto Porter draped all over him. He had 32 points to lead the Raptors.
Toronto shot 37.4 percent on the night, with the bench contributing very little on the scoreboard as Lou Williams, Grieves Vasquez and Patrick Patterson combined to shoot 7-of-21.
Gortat led Washington with a double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Wall had a double-double of his own with 19 points and 15 assists.
again: raptors now 2-13 v teams with winning records since all-star break.— alex (@steven_lebron) April 25, 2015
No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit in the postseason. The Raptors are royally you know what.
This Raptors season https://t.co/w52I5Y5O0X— John Gaudes (@johngaudes) April 25, 2015
We have more on this game coming up. Leave your thoughts in the comments below and try not to drown in your tears.