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Wizards grind out win over Raptors, 122-119
Eight players scored in double figures in the Wizards' third straight win
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The Wizards won their third straight game on Thursday night, taking down the Raptors 122-119. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27 points, scoring 25 of them in the second half. Otto Porter Jr. scored 16 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and dished out six assists in the win. Eight players finished in double figures as Washington’s bench stepped up big with 44 points. The Wizards shot 51.8% on the night, forced 18 Toronto turnovers for 23 points, and won the fast break 16-5.
The Raptors came out hot in the opening quarter, with O.G. Anunoby and Serge Ibaka combining for 19 of the team’s 34 first quarter points. Toronto used a 12-2 run to separate themselves from the Wizards, thriving off defensive stops and five 3-pointers. Mike Scott hit a stepback mid-range jump shot and a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to bring the Wizards within seven at the end of one quarter.
The Wizards’ biggest problem in the first half was big man Jonas Valanciunas, who had 16 points and six rebounds. Valanciunas made 7-of-8 shots, including both 3-point attempts, in a dominant first half. He also led the Raptors’ paint defense, holding the Wizards to only 22 points in the paint on 11-of-21 shooting in the first 24 minutes. However, in the second half, the Wizards held Valanciunas to just one point and no rebounds. Washington was also able to make 10-of-14 of their shots in the paint, flipping the switch after a rough first quarter down low.
Ian Mahinmi and Scott stepped up with 18 of the Wizards’ 26 first half bench points in a game full of bench contributions. The second unit stepped up with Beal struggling from the field, missing all six shots in the first half. Despite giving up 62 points, the Wizards were able to force eight Raptors turnovers for nine points. Norman Powell, who has barely been in the Raptors’ rotation lately, hit three tough jump shots to lead Toronto’s bench. Toronto finished 8-of-14 from beyond the arc in the first half, leading 62-55.
Moments after the NBA announced that Beal will be participating in the 3-Point Contest in Los Angeles, the first-time All-Star was making everything. Beal made his first four shots after a rough first half and finished with 17 points in the quarter on 7-of-10 shooting. Wizards made 9-of-10 shots to begin the second half and locked down the Raptors to 7-of-20 (35.0%) shooting overall in the quarter.
"I think in the first half I was trying to get a feel of how they were going to play me and they were doubling me a lot," Beal said postgame about his two very different halves. "A lot of the shots I took I didn’t necessarily like. I felt like they were shots they wanted me to take. In the second half, I knew that I had to be aggressive as much as possible, to give my teammates confidence and to give us a chance to go on a run and pull out a win. So, I just wanted to stay aggressive, stay confident. Once I saw one go down it was over from there.”
DeRozan and Lowry only combined for 4-of-13 shooting in the third, as Porter was all over DeRozan especially, but picked up his fourth foul with 5:15 left in the third quarter. Toronto’s All-Star backcourt would come alive in the fourth quarter, however, combining for 25 points in the final 12 minutes.
Jodie Meeks gave the Wizards a huge boost off the bench in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points in four-plus minutes. The Wizards were really clicking to begin the fourth and opened up an 100-91 lead thanks to a 12-4 run. With 8:11 to go and trailing by nine, the Raptors put back in their starters along with Powell. Toronto would score on nine straight possessions over the next three and a half minutes, regaining the lead in the process.
"They came out of the locker room running and we didn't catch their speed so that was the difference in the first part of the third quarter," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said of the Wizards' first 16 minutes of the second half. "Then [Jodie] Meeks comes in the fourth quarter, hits two big threes which was, you know, it extended us and broke our back.”
Trailing 110-106, the Wizards got two key buckets consecutively from Tomas Satoransky and Beal to tie it at 110. Nonetheless, Washington began to string together stops after the Raptors’ comeback. Markieff Morris scored five of his 15 points to give the Wizards an 115-110 lead with 1:45 to go, capping a 9-0 run. Beal missed a step back jump shot late in the shot clock with a minute to go, but Porter secured a huge offensive rebound to use more clock.
The final 36 seconds were a roller coaster, as Ibaka missed a wide open 3-pointer with the Raptors down three. The Raptors would chase and foul for the next few possessions, and brought the score to 120-118 with 4.1 seconds to go. On the inbound after advancing the ball on a timeout, Beal lost the ball and had to foul Lowry to prevent him from getting a layup with 2.7 seconds left. Lowry would only make one of two, Beal hit both of his free throws on the ensuing possession. DeRozan turned it over in the final possession as the Wizards earned a hard-fought victory.
Despite Beal’s hiccup late, his second half scoring barrage and the Wizards’ 24-of-26 (92.3%) free throw shooting late in the game sealed the win. Washington was poised in a pressure situation against the current No. 2 seed in the East, and played clutch defense down the stretch. Building off of the themes against the Hawks and Thunder, the Wizards assisted on 30 of their 44 field goals. In what was another tall task without John Wall, the Wizards came through as a team and won their third straight game.
“We try to do everything as a unit," Meeks said postgame. "We feel confident even though our main is out. Other guys have to step up, myself including. We are going to be happy to have him back whenever he gets back in those six-to-eight weeks. In the meantime, in this locker room, it’s all we have. Guys have to be ready.”
“It was a great team win, [against] one of the best teams in the league," Scott said about having eight players in double figures. "Two All-Star caliber players. We just needed everybody."
Next up, the Wizards (29-22) head to Orlando on Saturday night (7:00pm tip) to take on the Magic in the first of three in four days on the road.