Beal’s big night not enough to lift Wizards

Fall to Raptors in dou­ble-over­time

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

Over the course of Sun­day’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Bradley Beal lifted the Washington Wizards.

His 21 points in the fourth quar­ter alone — in­clud­ing a game-ty­ing 3-pointer with less than 30 sec­onds left — helped force over­time, eras­ing a 23-point de­fect from ear­lier in the af­ter­noon.

But Beal’s hero­ics weren’t enough. Star for­ward Kawhi Leonard pow­ered the Raptors to a 140-138 vic­tory in dou­ble over­time, grab­bing a piv­otal of­fen­sive re­bound that set up a go-ahead 3-pointer from cen­ter Serge Ibaka.

Beal fin­ished with a sea­son-high 43 points, 10 re­bounds and 15 as­sists.

Leonard an­swered with 41 points, 11 re­bounds and five as­sists.

“Any time you have two teams lay every­thing they have on the floor, peo­ple walk away know­ing that you did your best,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “And tonight was one of those games . ... I’m dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t get the win but I’m still proud of our guys, the way they bat­tled. If we keep play­ing like this, we’re go­ing to be in a lot of good games and in a good po­si­tion to keep putting our­selves in to win these games in the end.”

Af­ter the buzzer, Beal re­mained on the ground for sev­eral sec­onds. Mo­ments be­fore, an er­rant, last-ditch pass from Jeff Green went over Beal’s head — fail­ing to give the Wizards’ star one fi­nal op­por­tu­nity to steal the game.

Washington, too, had its chances. The Wizards led by two with 31.8 sec­onds left and they even ini­tially made a stop. But Leonard, who the Raptors ac­quired over the sum­mer from the San An­to­nio Spurs, hauled in the of­fen­sive board and quickly found a wide-open Ibaka for 3 to go up 139-138.

Toronto scored its fi­nal point on a free throw from guard Danny Green.

“We made a big shot at the very end and we get lucky to get out of here,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

The Wizards en­tered Sun­day’s con­test with a re-dis­cov­ered joy for the game. Against the Mil­wau­kee Bucks on Fri­day, guard To­mas Sa­toran­sky earned his first ca­reer triple-dou­ble and his team­mates show­ered him with water bot­tles in­side their locker room fol­low­ing the win. Washington, too, had won five of its last seven.

But the Raptors were ready to face the Wizards. They rushed out to a 9-0 lead be­hind Leonard and and fel­low for­ward Pas­cal Si­akam. Washington did not have an an­swer for ei­ther’s tow­er­ing size or ath­leti­cism.

Toronto was also honed in on Beal, who has now scored more than 30 points in each of his last three out­ings. Be­fore the game, Nurse was highly com­pli­men­tary of the Wizards star, say­ing Beal’s foot­work was among the best in the game.

“Al­ways when I’m pre­par­ing for these guys, I get amazed at his — I al­ways tell the team he’s got the best start-stop-start in the league,” Nurse said of Beal. “He’s go­ing one way 100 miles an hour, stops on a dime and is back the other way and then back the other way again. He’s hard to keep track of.”

The Raptors, though, did a solid job of keep­ing a de­fender con­sis­tently at­tached to Beal. Through the first quar­ter, Beal had just two points, went 1-for-9 from the field and the Raptors held a 36-21 lead.

Beal, how­ever, ad­justed. He found a bet­ter rhythm in the sec­ond, and it was no sur­prise the Wizards were able to cut into Toronto’s lead. The Raptors led 61-50 at half­time, but the Wizards outscored them in the quar­ter with Beal’s eight points.

Washington’s suc­cess didn’t last long. In the third quar­ter, the Raptors swarmed the Wizards — with Leonard, in par­tic­u­lar, dom­i­nant. In ad­di­tion to his 10 points in the third, Leonard forced two steals and had one block.

But Beal caught fire in the fourth. He went 8-of-9 to drag the Wizards back. And in the first over­time, Beal was kept quiet — un­til he drained an­other ga­me­ty­ing bas­ket with sec­onds left to force an­other over­time.

Beal’s triple-dou­ble was the sec­ond of this sea­son and his ca­reer.

“You’re not go­ing to al­ways have a great start,” Brooks said. “But I think he has enough his­tory that he un­der­stands that he can bounce back with a bad half. And he did. He made big shot af­ter big shot af­ter big shot. We needed ev­ery bit. ... That’s what your All-Stars are sup­posed to do.”

Though dis­ap­pointed with the out­come, the Wizards took so­lace in the fact they were com­pet­i­tive against the team that holds the best record in the NBA. They couldn’t say that two months ago — when the Raptors blew them out 125-107 at Sco­tia­bank Arena in Toronto.

That’s a sign of growth for the Wizards, who are just two games out of the eighth seed be­cause of their re­cent streak.

Washington doesn’t play again un­til Thurs­day when it takes on the New York Knicks in Lon­don. The team left for the air­port im­me­di­ately af­ter the game as the Wizards plan to use the up­com­ing days to get ac­cli­mated to the time dif­fer­ence.

“We’re tak­ing steps in the right di­rec­tion,” for­ward Trevor Ariza said. “Ob­vi­ously, tonight was a tough one. We wanted to win this one; we had op­por­tu­ni­ties to win this one, but we’re get­ting bet­ter ev­ery day. We’re pay­ing at­ten­tion, we’re play­ing harder.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal goes to the bas­ket against the pair of Toronto Raptors de­fend­ers on Sun­day. Beal scored a sea­son-high 43 points, in­cld­ing 21 in the fourth quar­ter, but the Wizards lost, 140-138, in dou­ble-over­time.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Washington’s Otto Porter and To­mas Sa­toran­sky de­fend Toronto Raptors for­ward Serge Ibaka con­nects on a go-ahead three pointer in the Wizards’ loss on Sun­day.

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