NBA Wizards 

Free Throws The Difference Down The Stretch as Wizards Top Raptors

The Washington Wizards have made it two in a row, they beat the Toronto Raptors 122-119 last night just 48 hours after taking down the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was far from easy, but the Wizards made the plays they needed to make and more importantly, the free throws when needed. In a tight fourth quarter, Toronto shot just 6-of-10 from the line while Washington knocked down 11-of-12. The Wizards got a big game from Bradley Beal, he started slow but finished strong and had an electric third quarter on his way to 27 points. Otto Porter Jr did a bit of everything, he came up with a few big rebounds down the stretch. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, the Wizards had eight players in double-figures. They did a good job of sharing the ball, Toronto was led by their backcourt. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan scored 29 and 23 points respectively, every member of the Raptors starting unit scored in double-figures.

Up four with 17 seconds left, the Wizards seemed to be in control. Then Kyle Lowry drove to the basket and drew a foul on Beal, the strong guard finished through the contact and had a chance to cut a once four point lead to just one by converting the and-1 opportunity. Lowry missed the free throw, Beal got the ball and was fouled. Bradley knocked down his two attempts from the line to extend Washington’s lead back to four, Kyle responded on the ensuing possession with an extremely easy layup. Now it’s 4.1 seconds on the clock and Washington has a 120-118 lead, they just have to inbound the ball, get fouled and knock down the free throws. They inbound the ball, but Beal couldn’t catch it cleanly and Lowry ends up with it. He’s fouled and has an opportunity to tie things at 120 with just three seconds left in the game. He missed the first free throw and there was question as to whether he’d intentionally miss the second, but he knocked it down to cut the deficit to one. Washington successfully inbounded the ball to Brad and he was fouled, he knocked both shots down and Washington took a 122-119 lead. The Raptors were out of timeouts and DeRozan had to try the football pass to get the ball over half court, but it was intercepted by Porter.

Consecutive turnovers by Washington led to a DeRozan turnaround jumper and a three from Lowry, that gave Toronto a 105-104 lead with 5:36 left in the game. The teams would trade baskets over the next couple of minutes, but Beal tied things up at 110 a piece with 3:24 left in regulation. From that point on, Washington’s defense was pretty stout. They forced a turnover, then Markieff Morris scored the next five points to give the Wizards a 115-110 lead. It came off a crazy possession, the Raptors were really scrambling on defense, but the ball got to Porter on the wing and he made the extra pass to Morris for the corner three. DeMar closed the gap to three after two free throws, Washington didn’t get the greatest shot on their next possession. They got the ball to Beal and he had Ibaka on him, Brad went to his step-back and the shot was short, but Otto came up with a huge offensive rebound. The Wizards didn’t do anything with that extra possession, but it was the first of a series of big rebounds by Porter. Good defense resulted in another stop for Washington, Porter got the rebound and was fouled, he went to the line and split the pair. The Raptors responded with a quick two on an easy basket by DeRozan, that cut their deficit to three. Porter heads to the line with an opportunity to extend the lead to four and does so, giving Washington some breathing room a 118-114 lead.

The Raptors got off to a scorching start, shooting 62% in the first period, including 62.5% from beyond the arc. Ibaka and Valanciunas led the way, scoring 15 of their team’s first 17 points. They each hit a triple for the first six points of the night for Toronto, another player that got hot early was rookie OG Anunoby. He was very efficient on his way to 9 points, knocking down three of his four attempts from deep. Washington also shot well to start, at one point both teams were shooting over 53% from the floor. Washington would go cold for a stretch, credit to the Raptors defense as well. They built a wall when possible to discourage Beal from driving as much as they could. Mike Scott hit a couple of shots late in the period to spark a Wizards run, heading to the second they trailed 34-27.

Washington stared the second quarter where they left off, they scored the first five points and the crowd started to get into it. That would be short lived as Poeltl scored on a put-back to stop the bleeding for the Raptors. Norman Powell came in and he and Scott took turns providing scoring for their respective teams. The Wizards cut the deficit to four with 4:51 left in the half, but Valanciunas responded with back to back buckets inside to push the lead back to eight. A couple of minutes later, Beal got the ball after a Wizards stop and found Satoransky on a lob, Tomas threw down an emphatic dunk and the crowd went nuts. That cut the lead to four, but Valanciunas responded with his second three pointer of the game to push Toronto’s lead back to seven..

Scott Brooks was issued a technical at the end of the first half, the second half started with DeRozan going to the line and knocking down the shot from the charity stripe. That gave Toronto an eight point lead, Washington would respond with a 7-0 run. Beal who ended the first half with two points on 0-of-6 shooting from the floor, the Raptors loaded up on him defensively. He saw two defenders on a regular basis anytime he put the ball on the ground, in the first half he moved the ball, but it wasn’t as decisive. Bradley seemed to have made an adjustment in the second half though, during that 7-0 run he scored five of those points. The teams would trade baskets for most of the quarter, but Washington had the edge courtesy of an on-fire Beal. He would score 17 points in the period, knocking down 7-of-10 shots from the floor and 3-of-4 from deep. One of the big differences it seemed for Beal was that he was more accepting of the second defender Toronto was sending, he drew the attention and then made the pass. He really made the Raptors pay for the attention they were giving him, Washington moved the ball well and hit shots. The Raptors didn’t fall behind by much though, DeRozan also had a big quarter to keep his team within striking distance. Of his 11 points, seven came from the free throw line. He was being more assertive and he used his exceptional footwork to create trouble and draw fouls, it was huge for his team as they shot just 35% to Washington’s 63% for the quarter.

Beal played all 12 minutes of the third quarter, so Brooks elected to get him a breather to start the fourth and things looked good early. Washington extended their one point lead to seven after back-to-back triples by Jodie Meeks. A couple possessions later, Kelly Oubre threw down a vicious dunk and for a moment it looked like the Wizards were going to make a run to blow the game open. Then that talented Raptors backcourt got started, Lowry had scored just 12 points through the first three quarters of the game. He went off in the final period, matching Beal’s third quarter point total of 17. DeMar added eight points, they combined for 25 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

Washington heads on the road for their next three games, they’ll return home next week to host the Boston Celtics.

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