It may not have been pretty, but the Washington Wizards persevered through some tough shooting and poor offense to pull out their third win in a row with a 90-84 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Bradley Beal was the Wizards’ best shooter all night, scoring 20, but it was a tough night for both teams around the bucket. Both shot under 45 percent, with the Raptors shooting under 40 percent, to make for some less than thrilling basketball. Washington put three players in double-figures compared to Toronto who just had two players go over ten points.
To say the first quarter of Monday night’s game between these two Eastern Conference foes was painful is the understatement of the year. Looking more like a Patriot League game than an NBA game at times, the Wizards and Raptors played a defensive game early on. Although saying that, perhaps the good defense was just bad offense from both sides.
Washington was able to squeak-out a 17-16 lead heading into a second quarter that looked a whole lot like the first. At one point in the first half, the Wizards had just two points off of eight Raptors turnovers to sum up just how low-scoring the game was. Even though much of the first half was largely devoid of offense, the Wizards did get into a rhythm towards the end, going on a 19-6 run to end the half. Beal may have been the most notable player in the half, but he still only scored nine points.
The run at the end gave the Wizards a 40-32 lead heading into the second half and in true Wizards fashion, they let the opposite back in the game quickly.
DeMar DeRozan opened up the second half with four straight points to pull the Raptors back within four. Multiple times the Wizards had opportunities to shutdown Raptors possessions or extend their own, but just could not get to the ball. Toronto would tie it up towards the end of the third with a Kyle Lowry three-pointer, but Beal answered to give the Wizards the lead.
It was an impressive three, yet most won’t recognize it as so. If anyone needed proof Beal has ice water in their veins, they can look at that three pointer. It was a big bucket for the Wizards and shows the kind of talent Beal has.
Washington took control of the game as the third quarter began winding down. To see just how important Washington’s ability to rebound is, they finally started to really get their feet underneath them in the game when they finally took over the lead in rebounds. Emeka Okfaor — come on who else would it be? — yet again dominated the boards for the Wizards with 13 rebounds, 10 of them from the defensive side of the court.
This will be shocking to almost no one who watched the game, but the fourth quarter was just about as boring as the other three, with the exception of the final few seconds. Washington just could not totally pull away from Toronto, that was until Nene woke up offensively and was fouled on a layup by Amir Johnson. It gave the Wizards an 11 point lead and just enough breathing room.
Toronto closed the gap to five with a little over a minute left when Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman called one of the team’s 20-second timeouts. John Wall, was quiet for most of the night followed up the timeout with a big two to make it 85-78 and all but ice the game. Toronto would hit several threes inside 20-seconds remaining, but the lead would be too much for them to overcome.
Washington is now looking like a team who can beat anyone and will attempt to beat the Detroit Pistons for the first time this season when they return to the Verizon Center on Wednesday.