Rap­tors find suc­cess the hard way

Af­ter blow­ing big lead in phys­i­cal game, Toronto needs dou­ble over­time to beat Wizards

The Province - - SPORTS - MIKE GAN­TER mgan­[email protected]­media.com

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.”

QUICK HITS

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.

— THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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