There was a showdown between two of the best players in their respective positions in not only the Eastern Conference, but the league at Capital One Arena on Sunday afternoon. The fans that braved the winter weather were treated to quite a show as the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 140-138 in double overtime. Serge Ibaka hit a huge triple with 15 seconds left in the second overtime. Otto Porter missed an open triple on the wing and Danny Green split a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds left. Washington had one last chance but Kyle Lowry broke up the long pass attempt to Beal as time expired. It was Toronto’s fifth consecutive victory, them holding on kept them squandering another big lead this season. It was a heck of a fight from the Wizards after going down early.
Kawhi Leonard has been reminding folks this year with his play in Toronto that he’s not a system player and that he is indeed one of the very best players in the entire league. Leonard had 41 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. Bradley Beal is boldly stepping into that group in terms of shooting guards in the league, he’s a two-way player that is showing off his all-around game this season. He had 43 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. Beal joined Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with multiple games of 40 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds in a season.
The Raptors led by as many as 23 points after getting off to a great start. Leonard and Pascal Siakam paced them early on, scoring 12 and 10 points respectively. The Wizards were on their heels, but they dug in and a spirited second quarter helped them climb back into the game. The change of tide happened because of the work they put in on the defensive end. Jeff Green nearly hit a three at the halftime buzzer that would have cut the Washington deficit to eight.
The crowd was back into it as the half came to a close, but the start of the third quarter was all about Toronto. They reasserted themselves on both ends of the floor to build the lead back up to as many as 19. Washington was able to trade baskets with Toronto, but that didn’t allow them to make up much ground. The positive for the Wizards was that they started to get on track offensively. Danny Green got going for Toronto scoring 13 of his 16 points and Toronto took a 14 point lead into the fourth quarter.
Beal was dominant in the fourth quarter, scoring a career-high 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor. The Wizards defense played a big role in the rally as well, holding the Raptors to just 38% shooting from the floor while they shot a blistering 72% en route to outscoring Toronto 40-26. Beal tied the game at 124 with 20.4 seconds left in regulation. Trevor Ariza who nearly had a triple double himself (23 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists) played great defense on Leonard which resulted in a miss. Washington got the ball with 2.4 seconds left, but couldn’t get the ball to Beal. Green missed the off balanced jumper at the buzzer.
The first overtime was a struggle for both teams, neither could get on track. Although the Wizards had more than enough chances, they took 13 shots to the Raptors five. Leonard scored all seven points for his team in the period. Beal scored just two points, but it was the two that evened things up at 131. Lowry couldn’t get a clean look of a step-back attempt from beyond the arc.
Both Siakam (24 points, 19 rebounds, three steals) and Ariza fouled out in the second extra period. After the game, the Wizards were in a hurry to catch their flight to London. They play the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Siakam. Pascal looks like the leading candidate for Most Improved this season. He was tremendous against Washington, pulling down a career-high 19 rebounds and showing off his ever evolving game. It’s fun to see how far he’s come and excited to see what lies ahead for him.
Porter. Otto played 44 minutes in this one, he’s still coming off the bench. With John out, it’s not a bad look for him as he gets to lead the second unit as the primary scorer. His seven first quarter points were huge for Washington, because they were really struggling to score at that point. Porter was efficient with his shooting, including knocking down five three pointers.
Fight. Without that that mentality, Washington doesn’t climb out of that hole from the first quarter. This may just be who “this” team is this season and it’s needed, they’re missing a very big piece. That piece also brings a lot of that edge to the table, it’s something the team seem to be adopting as of late and it’s good to see.
Wright. He was a big factor off the bench for Toronto, giving them 17 points and six rebounds. With Van Vleet out, Delon stepped up to lead Toronto’s second unit.