Raptors find success the hard way
After blowing big lead in physical game, Toronto needs double overtime to beat Wizards
WASHINGTON — 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 3 1/2 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 ended up with a game-high 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 in 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.
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 when 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 last night resting up.
TIME FOR ANSWERS
CJ Miles will spend the next few days getting some answers about a sore right hip that has been bothering him since training camp.
The hip issue doesn’t appear to be going away so the team has arranged for him to see a specialist in Boston where Toronto will be for the next three days and then perhaps another specialist after they get back to Toronto.
“Miles has been struggling,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said before the game. “We tried to give it a go the other night and it just wasn’t right.”
In a brief chat after the game Miles said that while the hip hasn’t got any worse it has got to the point where it’s preventing him from doing the things he needs to do on the court to get back to the player he was a year ago.
WIZARDS HANGING TOUGH
The Wizards learn they will be without their starting point guard for the remainder of the season and they get better? That’s not how it is supposed to work.
The team is coming off a five game stretch against elite NBA competition and they have wins over Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City and a near win over the Raptors to show for it.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction,” veteran forward Trevor Ariza said after the game.
Nurse took a shot at explaining how a team gets better after losing one of its marquee stars.
“I’ve always liked Satoransky,” he began of Wall’s replacement at point guard. “He brings a different feel, a different energy. They have a plethora of wing players, all of them good, all of them experienced. Brad (Beal) is playing great. I just think they have a really nice crew here that is moving the basketball and getting it up the floor a little quicker and playing very, very well.”
The 17 points by Delon Wright were a season high for the Raptors point guard and a continuation of some fine play over the past week and a half or so ... Pascal Siakam’s 19 rebounds Sunday were a career high breaking his old mark of 15 set in Philadelphia earlier this season in against Philadelphia.
Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard drives to the basket against Wizards forward Jeff Green during Sunday’s game in Washington. Leonard had 41 points as the Raptors posted a 140-138 win in double overtime.