Beal’s late magic forces Raps to win hard way

After blow­ing big lead, Toronto needed dou­ble-over­time to fi­nally beat Wizards

Montreal Gazette - - SPORTS - MIKE GANTER mgan­[email protected]­media.com

A game that seemed sewn up in the very early stages turned out to be any­thing but for the Toronto Rap­tors on Sun­day. With the Wash­ing­ton Wizards on their way to Lon­don for the NBA’s an­nual Eng­land ex­cur­sion Sun­day night (the game will be played Thurs­day), the team came out look­ing like they were al­ready men­tally on their way over­seas while the Rap­tors ap­peared locked in. The game re­mained that way for most of 31/2 quar­ters be­fore Bradley Beal, the lone Wizards player show­ing much of any push­back, got red-hot and brought his club all the way back, forc­ing the game into over­time. Beal, who fin­ished with a game­high 43 points, spear­headed a fourth-quar­ter come­back which saw the Rap­tors outscored 40-26. It took two ex­tra frames be­fore Toronto fi­nally got a lead they could hang onto with Serge Ibaka drain­ing a three with 15.2 sec­onds re­main­ing in the sec­ond over­time pe­riod that the Rap­tors made stand up in a 140-138 win. “We’re lucky to get out of here (with a win),” Rap­tors head coach Nick Nurse said. “I mean, we fought hard at the end. We made a big shot at the very end and we got lucky to get out of here.” The game cer­tainly took its toll in the health depart­ment, al­though ev­ery mem­ber of the Rap­tors who had to leave the game even­tu­ally made their way back. “That was rugged. I’m not sure it was su­per phys­i­cal game, but it was a col­li­sion game,” Nurse said. “Both teams play­ing re­ally hard, lots of open floor play and lots of spac­ing and lots of tran­si­tion so there were a lot of col­li­sions out there. Luck­ily for us, this is just the third time all year we get two days be­fore we play again and we’re go­ing to need them.” The in­jury pa­rade for the Rap­tors be­gan when Kawhi Leonard had to leave the game mid­way through the third quar­ter with some tight­ness be­hind his knee that needed stretch­ing out. With Leonard still out, Norm Pow­ell had his bell rung when he took a Jeff Green el­bow in the head and stayed down, hop­ing the of­fi­cials would take a sec­ond look at the play. They didn’t and no foul was called. Leonard shook off his leg tight­ness to put up a team-high 41 points but it was the re­bounds — he fin­ished with 11 — he pulled down, par­tic­u­larly late in the game that caught the at­ten­tion of team­mate Kyle Lowry. “Just some un­be­liev­able re­bound­ing, strong­man stuff,” Lowry said of Leonard’s work on the boards. “He did some strong­man stuff.” Toronto had a 23-point lead just a lit­tle less than four min­utes into the sec­ond quar­ter. Wash­ing­ton whit­tled that lead down to three with 11.5 sec­onds left in the game, then Beal hit one of his six three point­ers in the game to force the first over­time. Beal pulled down 10 re­bounds and added 15 as­sists to go along with his point to­tal but needed to play 55 of the 58 min­utes in the game to do so. Otto Porter Jr. added 27 points for the Wizards. Suf­fice to say, Beal fig­ured to spend a good por­tion — if not all — of the team’s flight to Lon­don rest­ing up.

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