- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2018

After a series of flare-ups in Game 3, referees tightened their whistles Sunday in the Wizards’ 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

And in doing so, a controversial call almost swung the game late. Wizards guard Bradley Beal fouled out with 4:58 remaining after he and Raptors star DeMar DeRozan collided on a rebound.

By letter of the rule, Beal was called for blocking. But Beal said he received no explanation from the referee.

“When they initially called me for my sixth, I was beyond emotional, beyond mad, frustrated,” Beal said. “I honestly thought they were going to kick me out of the game, I was so mad. I was happy they didn’t do that.”

A total of 49 fouls were called. And there were free throws galore.

The two teams combined for 61 attempts from the line. The Wizards ended up with 31 attempts to Toronto’s 30, which was surprising, considering the Raptors finished the first quarter with 16 attempts.

DeRozan himself had 12 free throw attempts in the first quarter. He made nine of them.

“As a coach, you always look at it from your team’s perspective,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said, pointing out the game’s free throw discrepancy in the first quarter. “And I didn’t like that. But I always look back and, if you defend and foul, you deserve to put them on the free throw line. I looked at, I think, four of his attacks in the first half, DeRozan, he got fouled on all of them. And during the game, I thought he didn’t but that’s why they get paid to do that and I don’t get paid to do that.”

In Game 3, there were several skirmishes in which the players had to be separated. During the first quarter, Raptors forward OG Anunoby went after Wizards forward Markieff Morris, leading the two to exchange shoves. Wizards forward Kelly Oubre quipped Anunoby didn’t read the scouting report because he’d know Morris “was one of those people you don’t mess with in this world.”

Then, in the third quarter, Beal was hit with a technical for trying to swat the ball out of center Jonas Valanciunas’ hands after the play was stopped. That triggered a confrontation between John Wall and Serge Ibaka, leading to more double technicals.

The NBA announced Saturday that Morris was fined $25,000 for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official.”

A player in the 1990s, an era known for fistfights during play, Brooks was amused prior to Game 4 over the incidents. He joked the instances probably wouldn’t have been called a fight if they took place then.

“Maybe it was the modern-day millennial fight,” Brooks said before the game. “It was not much of a fight. It was just a push and a shove.”

The Wizards might not be the only team to take issue with the calls. On Sunday, referees gave Valanciunas a Flagrant-1 for fouling Wall in the first quarter on the fast break. Wall crashed to the ground, and referees can call a flagrant if they rule the act “unnecessary.” 

While there might not have been an official mandate from the league office to tighten things up, it certainly appeared that way for Sunday’s contest.

“Some of those calls are very soft,” Wizards center Marcin Gortat said. “I’ve never seen so many soft calls in the playoffs. … I might be wrong. Maybe I had a bad angle, but it is what it is.”

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