Few would have anticipated Thursday night’s matchup between the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors would equate to a battle of endurance. But, a whopping 3:32 after tipoff, the Wizards emerged the victor, topping the Raptors 134-129 in a triple-overtime contest that featured 19 ties and 15 lead changes.
Both John Wall and Marcin Gortat came up big with 31 points apiece, and Gortat added 12 rebounds and four blocks on the night. In a demonstration of stamina, Gortat, Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza each played 50 or more minutes of basketball before days’ end.
And, when all was said and done, the Wizards had outscored the Raptors 80-46 in the paint, 21-6 on second-chance points and 26-16 on the fast break.
But, fans at the Air Canada Centre nearly missed out on 15 minutes of bonus basketball.
After trailing for the greater portion of the first half of regulation, the Wizards caught the Raptors and kept things close throughout the third and fourth quarters.
With five seconds left in regulation, Gortat drove inside to knock in a missed jumper by Beal to tie the game at 106. Toronto’s Kyle Lowry tried to come up with a tough floater to wrap things up, but the ball rolled off the rim to send the game into overtime.
The Raptors took a four-point lead with 2:14 remaining in overtime before Wall came up with a layup-and-1 to bring the Wizards back within a point. With 48 seconds remaining, Wall made one of two free throws before driving inside with a game-tying layup.
In the final moments before the buzzer, Wall delivered a game-saving block on Lowry to tack on five more minutes of play.
But, of course, the drama didn’t stop there.
The second overtime proved to be Gortat versus DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan opened the extra period with a turnaround jumper before Gortat responded with a dunk fed by Martell Webster. Gortat than drew a foul off Jonas Valanciunas with 43 seconds remaining and sank both of his free baskets to put Washington up 118-116.
With just two seconds remaining, however, DeRozan erased the two free baskets with a layup to tie the game.
It then appeared as though Beal would emerge the Wizards’ hero as he drove across the court for the layup, but it was ruled the buzzer had sounded just before the ball left his hands.
At last, the Wizards were able to outlast the Raptors in the third overtime. Gortat and Beal came up big with two points in the first two minutes to keep up with DeRozan’s hot shooting.
Webster hit a layup before Gortat added another three-point play to tie things up at 127 points apiece. Ariza and Webster then hit the go-ahead shots too late for the Raptors to play catch-up.
With the win, the Wizards are now, at last, two games above .500 and 15-14 on the road.