TORONTO >> Paul Pierce beat the Raptors with a veteran mix of brains and baskets.
Pierce scored five of his 20 points in overtime, Nene had 12 points and 13 rebounds, and the Washington Wizards beat Toronto 93-86 on Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.
“It takes the pressure off us and puts it on them now,” Pierce said of winning on the road to start the series.
Pierce hit a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, to begin the extra session, further tormenting a Raptors team he eliminated with Brooklyn in last year’s playoffs, then derided this week by saying, “I don’t feel they have the ‘It’ that makes you worried,” in an interview with ESPN.
“He was really big,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “I thought the 3 he hit to start the overtime was big (for) momentum.”
Bradley Beal scored 16, while John Wall and Kevin Seraphin each had 10 for the Wizards.
Amir Johnson scored 18 points and DeMar DeRozan had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors, who have yet to win the opening game of a first-round series in seven postseason appearances.
Toronto hosts Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Badgered by taunts from a vocal sellout crowd, Pierce also drew the ire of Toronto’s general manager. Masai Ujiri, who was fined $25,000 after he used a profanity about Brooklyn at the start of last year’s series, used another profanity in a pregame speech to thousands of fans watching on a big screen outside the arena. This time, Ujiri’s off-color comment referred to Pierce’s recent “It” remark.
“Typical Ujiri,” Pierce smirked when told about it after the game. “You heard what he said last year when I was in Brooklyn. I could really care less. I think I can play the psychological war a little bit better than him.”
Pierce may have never played it better, although he’s certainly had plenty of practice.
“You’ve just got to embrace it,” Pierce said of being the villain. “It’s not that I’m a bad guy. Everybody knows I’m a good guy, I mean off the court. That’s just the role you portray to media on the court, on the road. Everybody is booing you, no one likes you. I embrace it. It fuels me, truthfully.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who attended the game, told Canadian broadcaster TSN that Ujiri’s comments were “not appropriate.”
Before the series, Wittman said he picked Pierce’s brain about what Brooklyn did to beat Toronto last year, and Pierce’s experience in winning an NBA title with Boston.
“It’s a unique situation having a guy like him,” Wittman said. “If I don’t take advantage of having a guy who’s going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and pick his brain, then I’m not doing a very good job.”
Washington held a double-digit lead in the second half, but Greivis Vasquez, who came on after All-Star Kyle Lowry fouled out, tied it at 82-all by hitting a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.
“We didn’t get discouraged when they tied it up, we just stayed confident with each other,” Pierce said.
Neither team scored again until Pierce made a 3-pointer 36 seconds into overtime, the first basket in a 7-0 Wizards run. Toronto missed seven straight shots before DeRozan’s dunk with 29 seconds left.
The Raptors’ only Game 1 win came over Philadelphia in the second round of the 2001 playoffs.
Lou Williams, Patrick Patterson and Vasquez each had 10 for the Raptors, whose bench outscored the starting five 48-38.
DeRozan, Lowry and Terrence Ross shot a combined 11 for 41, including a 0-for-11 performance from 3-point range.
“We just missed a lot of easy shots,” DeRozan said.
More than the poor shooting, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he wasn’t happy that his team got outrebounded 61-48. Washington has 19 offensive rebounds.
“Until we make (rebounding) a priority, it’s going to be hard for us,” Casey said.
Three of the past five meetings between the Wizards and Raptors have gone into overtime, including one triple-overtime game.
Raptors: Tyler Hansbrough started in place of Johnson, who missed four of Toronto’s final seven games with a sore right ankle.
Wizards: Washington won in Toronto for the first time since a 134-129 triple OT victory on Feb 27, 2014. They Wizards had lost their past two visits.
KING OF THE ROAD
Wittman is the first coach in NBA history to win six of his first seven road playoff games.
COACH IN THE CROWD
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who coached Wall and Patterson during their time with the Wildcats, watched from a courtside seat near the Raptors bench.