- - Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Wizards’ official social media hashtag is #DCFamily.

I have no idea how they arrived at that phrase to describe a team in Washington.

It’s a strange choice because a large percentage of local fans presumably come from all over. A majority of the 50 states might be represented in a typical crowd at Capital One Arena. This isn’t the type of cozy hometown market where 99 percent of the spectators demonstrate unity by donning the free T-shirts.

But in watching Washington gut out a 106-98 victory Sunday that evened its playoff series against Toronto at two games apiece, “DC Family” made sense.

The Wizards are like those maddening, frustrating relatives you want to smack in the head sometimes because they simply don’t act right.

They’re talented, but too often undisciplined. They’re capable, but too often unfocused. Good advice too often goes unheeded, making you wonder if they’re hard-of-hearing or simply hard-headed

But when the Wizards pull out a victory like they did Sunday — playing the final five minutes without leading scorer Bradley Beal (31 points) — all is forgiven.

We excuse them for blown defensive assignments and poor free-throw shooting. We give them a pass for horrific offensive sets and crippling brain locks. The turnovers, the bad shots, the propensity to foul?

Never happened.

After a win that kept them from a 3-1 deficit as the series heads back to Canada, the Wizards could revel in their knack for overcoming adversity. They have developed a real mean streak at home in the playoffs, undefeated in their last eight games.

Yes, they dig holes, but they’ve shown a knack for digging out, too.

Like a crazy cousin or silly sibling, the Wizards can be their own worst enemy at times. But then they reach deep inside and come up with an effort that makes you want to give them a hug and a noogie.

“You have to have resolve to win in this league,” coach Scott Brooks said after his team outscored Toronto 14-6 down the stretch with Beal looking on from the bench. “We had had some tough moments in the year with John (Wall) missing half the season, but we found it and put ourselves in position to make the playoffs through resolve. You win playoff games and playoff series with having that.”

Winning at least once in Toronto won’t be easy. But everything Washington does is accompanied by a measure of difficulty. The Wizards could labor against the Eastern Conference’s worst team as easily as they struggle against top-seeded Toronto.

The only difference is the Raptors are really good.

Everything suggests Toronto is the better team … except the fact that Washington earned a split in four regular-season games, even without Wall. Clearly a difference maker, Wall had his second consecutive game with 14 assists. He also took over the scoring load once his backcourt partner departed, notching eight of his 27 points during the Wizards’ closing run.

Washington put itself in position with vitality to open the third quarter. Quiet Otto Porter finally made some noise after scoring just point before intermission. Trailing by 11 at the break, Washington forged a tie within four minutes as Porter scored eight points.

It was part of a 40-point outburst in the third quarter; Washington scored 40 combined in the first half.

When the Wizards play like that – with Porter engaged and Beal on fire (12 points in the quarter including 3-of-3 from distance) and Wall getting everyone involved – they’re a tough out.

Especially when they pick up their defensive intensity, which occurred in the fourth quarter. Toronto shot just 34.8 percent from the floor in the final 12 minutes, sped up and made uncomfortable.

“We were playing frenetic down the stretch,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “At some point, we’ve to make sure we keep our composure and execute. … You’ve got to give Washington credit. They played tremendously. They got into us, took us out of some things we wanted to do.”

We could ask why the Wizards are so inconsistent. Why they repeat bad habits. Why they get away from things that make them so successful. But there’s no good answer.

It’s as hopeless as trying to figure out what Kelly Oubre is doing half the time.

They are who they are, warts and all. Long and athletic with a tendency to suffer brain cramps. Cool and dispassionate until they’re pushed to the edge. The ability to beat — or lose — to anybody.

But they’re all ours.

And just like family, we have no choice but to love them.

Nights like Sunday make it easier.

Deron Snyder ’s column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

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