Wizards, Bulls kick off NBA playoffs with win over Raptors, Bucks
TORONTO, Canada - The Washington Wizards, led by a strong performance from Paul Pierce, held off Toronto 93-86 in overtime on the Raptors' home floor on Saturday to open the NBA playoffs.
The Wizards squandered a lead that stretched to as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter, but allowed the Raptors to score just four points in overtime to seal the victory in the opener of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.
Elsewhere in the East, a resurgent Derrick Rose scored 23 points to lead the Bulls to a 103-91 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Chicago.
Rose, who has battled a string of injuries since his Most Valuable Player campaign in 2010-11, missed 31 games this season.
He hadn't appeared in a post-season game since tearing a knee ligament in 2012 against Philadelphia.
But his explosive talent was on full display as he connected on nine of 16 shots from the floor and handed out seven assists.
Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 25 points and Spanish big-man Pau Gasol scored 10 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who will host the Bucks in game two on Monday.
Khris Middleton scored 18 points to lead five Bucks in double figures as Milwaukee try to go even further in a remarkable turnaround season that saw them reach the playoffs a year after finishing with the league's worst record.
In Toronto, the Raptors' Nigerian-born general manager Masai Ujiri got the series with the Wizards off to a testy start, telling fans at a pre-game rally he didn't "give a shit" about Pierce's opinion of his team.
Pierce, who won an NBA title with Boston in 2008 was jeered lustily by Raptors fans, but said he "embraced" the role of villain.
Pierce scored five of his 20 points in overtime. Bradley Beal added 16, and Nene chipped in 12 points with a game-high 13 rebounds for the Wizards.
"The key is winning four games, but I think when you win game one on the road, it kind of sets the tone," Pierce said.
In the extra session Washington they limited the Raptors to just 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, 0-of-4 from three-point range.
The defeat was a familiar feeling for the Raptors. Toronto have reached the post-season seven times in club history - and have lost their opener seven times.
In their prior playoff appearances the Raptors have made it out of the first round only once, in 2001 against the New York Knicks.
Amir Johnson led the fourth-seeded Raptors with 18 points off the bench.
He was part of a Raptors second unit that out-scored Toronto's starters by a 48-38 margin. DeMar DeRozan scored 15 and added 11 rebounds 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 out-rebounded."
Toronto will try to level the series when they host game two on Tuesday. - Rappler.com