WASHINGTON -- A sequence of heated incidents resulting in five technical fouls ignited tensions during the Washington Wizards' 122-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of their first-round series Friday night. Toronto leads the series 2-1.
"Things get chippy," Wizards guard Bradley Beal said. "Things get out of hand. We talk trash. I think it's a part of the game."
The first altercation occurred during the opening minutes of the first quarter. After Raptors wing OG Anunoby delivered a foul to Markieff Morris that sent the Wizards' forward to the floor, Morris rose and blindsided Anunoby in the back with a forearm. Anunoby countered by shoving Morris in the chest, at which point Wizards center Marcin Gortat stepped between the two, shoving Anunoby in the process.
"It wasn't really a scuffle," Morris said. "I felt like [Anunoby] really went high with his elbow. That's what really got me started. We needed some physicality. I felt like when we played them in Toronto, they did everything too freely. So this is me trying to set the tone for how we need to play the whole series, especially on Sunday."
Raptors center Serge Ibaka also got involved and confronted Morris, while Raptors guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry restrained Wizards guard John Wall, who cocked his fist in the midst of the scrum.
"Ain't nobody fighting out here," Lowry said. "It got physical, but ain't nobody fighting. I mean ... it was heated. It was a heated moment, but that is the game of basketball. It gets competitive, and we're all grown men. We know what it is."
Teammates, referees and team officials then intervened as players were separated. Technical fouls were assessed to Anunoby and Morris.
"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that," Gortat said. "We need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]. It should always be someone else. Personally it should be me. I don't have too many technical fouls. I don't have too many of those situations, but I should, and he did that for us, and he took a big hit today and foul trouble. He sacrificed himself for the team."
The second major scuffle transpired midway through the third quarter, when Beal tried to snatch the ball from Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas after Valanciunas was whistled for an offensive foul on Gortat. Beal hooked Valanciunas' arm, and Valanciunas resisted. Morris stepped between the two.
"We're not going out trying to box every game, but we're a physical team, and they're a physical team," Beal said. "I don't think me and Valanciunas was anything serious. I was just trying to get the ball, but [Morris] is a bully.
"For the most part, we don't come in with that mindset. We just want to be aggressive and be physical. Sometimes it escalates a little bit, especially this one," Beal said, referring to Wall, who sat alongside him at the podium during the postgame news conference.
After a momentary detente as Beal and Valanciunas went their separate ways, tensions escalated when Ibaka and Wall began to jaw at each other in an animated exchange. Ibaka then tried to charge Wall but was thwarted by Wizards team security official Dave Best, who wrapped up Ibaka.
"I just told [Ibaka] to get his hands out of people's faces," Wall said when asked what provoked the fracas between him and Ibaka. "[Then] he went into a rage. It's the playoffs. We were down 2-0. We were just being aggressive. Ain't nobody out there trying to fight anybody. But if my teammates get into anything, I am trying to back those guys up and play a physical, aggressive game and try to come out here and set the tone and get the win."
Fans at Capital One Arena chanted "U-S-A," then subsequently the game operations crew chose to play "Born in the U.S.A.," by Bruce Springsteen as officials examined the play on the replay monitor. The Raptors are the only NBA team based outside the United States.
In addition to the two incidents, Lowry was called for a flagrant foul early in the third quarter when he made contact with Beal's head as Beal elevated for a layup on a fast break. After tumbling to the floor, Beal shot up and barked at official Gary Zielinski and had to be restrained by crew chief Ken Mauer.
"We play basketball," Ibaka said. "It's passionate and emotional."
ESPN's John Keim and Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.