WASHINGTON – The Washington Wizards (6-16) return home from a lengthy road trip was spoiled by the Toronto Raptors (12-13), who beat them in every facet of the game, 137-115 on Feb. 10.
Raptors guard Norman Powell led all scorers with 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. Wizards guard Bradley Beal poured in 24 points and had five assists.
There weren’t many bright spots for the Wizards after taking an early lead off a Davis Bertans (nine points) 26-foot 3-pointer in the first quarter. That one-point lead ended up being their only advantage on the night.
From that moment onward, the Raptors had their way, pushing the ball in transition, dominating from inside and out with 52 points in the paint while knocking down 19 treys.
“They were 19-32 (from distance), “Washington Wizards Head coach Scott Brooks said.” That’s tough to do in an open gym. We gotta do better; we watch film, we talked about the guys, and we didn’t close all the way out to the shooters, and that was the night. And we had opportunities to make some shots ourselves, and we struggled.”
A 14-4 run helped Toronto create some separation from Washington, building a 10-point lead before Washington climbed back to within four points off a Rui Hachimura (15 points, 7 rebounds) dunk.
Every time the Wizards were within single digits, the Raptors would race down the court and shift the momentum with a run.
The first time it happened with just under four minutes to go, Chris Boucher (17 points, 16 rebounds) made a 3-pointer to help the Raptors outpace the Wizards 15-7 to end the opening salvo with a 12 point lead. In the second, it happened with over 5:37 left in the first half off a Bertans 3-pointer to make it 50-46.
From there, Pascal Siakam (26 points, five rebounds), finished a three-point play that sparked a 13-7 swing, giving the Raptors a 10-point lead with under three minutes to go in the half.
“We gotta be able to guard and make shots down the stretch,” Beal said. “It’s tough, honestly. We do come in knowing who we’re playing, what’s going on with personnel like they didn’t have any bigs. So I don’t know, we knew what was going on. For whatever reason, it’s just not translating.”
The Wizards had had an opportunity to retake their first lead since the first quarter was late in the third quarter after Deni Avdija (nine points, seven rebounds) knocked down a 3-pointer in rhythm to make it a six-point game.
This time the Wizards were unable to capitalize after Alex Len (11 points) turned the ball over two possessions in a row, and the Raptors responded by closing the quarter out on an 11-7 spurt. In the fourth frame, Washington went on an 11-0 run, powered by three straight buckets from Russell Westbrook (23 points, seven rebounds, six assists).
Down 112-106 with a little over eight minutes to go in the game, Beal came in with an opportunity to help Washington steal a game from Toronto.
Instead, Siakam and Powell combined for 16 points in the final 7:21 minutes of the game to help the Raptors methodically climb back to a 19-point lead before the benchwarmers came in to finish the game.
“It’s frustrating because we’re in games,” Beal said of the highs and lows of the season. “We have opportunities to win like we were down … we were right there in the game, and all of a sudden I look up, and we’re down 10, and we’re down 15.
It’s like, well, how these runs happen, so why aren’t we closing out games the way we need to. It’s always a few mistakes here and there and transition defense really killed us tonight.”
Courtesy photo: Washington Wizards