The Toronto Raptors overcame Bradley Beal’s stellar play on Sunday afternoon to take down the Wizards, 140-138 in a double-overtime thriller. Beal logged his second triple-double of his career with 43 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds and Trevor Ariza nearly had a triple-double of his own with 23 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds but the Wizards just had no answer for Kawhi Leonard (41 points and 11 rebounds) or Pascal Siakam (24 points and 19 rebounds).
The Raptors are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and the Wizards found that out quickly as they missed their first five shots and trailed by double-digits before the National Anthem was finished. Toronto held the Wizards to just 34 percent shooting in the first quarter and led 36-21 after one as it looked like this one was heading towards a blowout.
That Toronto lead ballooned to 23, 51-28 early in the second quarter and you could feel the bleak and somber mood of the stadium ooze through the television screen. The Wizards did find their footing late in the half on the heels of a 12-2 run and somehow were in striking distance but trailed 61-50 at halftime.
The Wizards took their best jab at the Raptors but Toronto always answered and was able to keep the lead at double-digits throughout the third quarter.
And that’s when the fun began.
After playing some pretty poor defense for most of the game, Washington clamped down defensively and started getting some stops early in the fourth quarter. The Wizards turned those stops into transition baskets which trimmed the deficit to single digits.
After a slow start, Bradley Beal got hot enough to melt most of the snow around Capital One Arena in the fourth quarter. He hit back to back three-pointers to trim the deficit to four, 116-112 late in the period.
His biggest basket of the night came in the final moments as Porter missed a three-pointer but Satoransky was there to kick the ball out to Beal for three and tie the game at 124.
The Wizards had a shot to win this one in regulation but Jeff Green’s attempt on the final possession clanked off the back of the rim.
The teams went back and forth in the overtime periods as both teams clamped down and made every shot difficult. With the Wizards trailing by two and just seconds to play in the first overtime period, Beal curled off a screen and hit a floater through contact in the lane to tie the game at 131 and force a second overtime.
Tomas Satoransky broke the scoring seal at the 3:20 mark with a floater in the lane to give Washington their first lead of the day, 133-131. After two free-throws from Lowry, Beal and Bryant ran the two-man game to perfection resulting in a short jumper for Bryant to put Washington back out in front.
But every time the Wizards punched, Toronto punched back. Leonard drove to the lane and got stripped only to recover the loose ball and find Serge Ibaka for a three-pointer to put the Raptors back up 139-138. Washington had one final chance to win this one. Bradley Beal took the inbounds pass and drove baseline finding Jeff Green who looked like he was open for a split second. Green pump-faked and found Porter on the wing for a good look at a three but it too, clanked off the back iron.
That would be it as Toronto gathered the loose ball and iced the game at the free throw line to snap Washington’s win streak and negate one of Bradley Beal’s best performances of the season.
Bradley Beal’s All-Star campaign keeps humming along
Bradley Beal struggled mightily to start this one. Beal scored just 10 points in the first half and was just 4-of-17 from the field into the third quarter. But everything flipped for Brad in the fourth quarter.
After a baseline layup to start the period, Beal knocked down back-to-back three-pointers in as many possessions trimming the Raptors lead to four, 116-112. After that forgettable start, Beal made nine of his next ten shots to give the Wizards a fighting chance. Then, with the Wizards down three and under one minute to play, Otto Porter air-balled a three-pointer but Sato was there for the rebound and kicked it to Brad for a three-pointer that tied the game and got Beal up to 40 points.
Not only was Beal scoring the basketball, but he was also getting others involved. He has developed a nice chemistry with Thomas Bryant over the past few games and you could tell as the Wizards went to the pick-and-roll and two-man game for several key baskets in the closing minutes.
His work on the boards was the cherry on top for Beal who notched the second triple-double of his career with 43 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds.
At this point, it would be borderline criminal if Brad doesn’t get an invite to Charlotte for the All-Star Game.
Otto Porter provides a spark off the Wizards bench in the first half
Chalk it up to the early start, the snow, the swarming defense from Toronto or all of the above because the Wizards came out lifeless in this one. Washington fell down double digits in this one and trailed 29-10 midway through the first quarter.
But when Otto Porter checked in, things changed for the Wizards. He started off hot, connecting on his first two baskets of the game and 3-of-4 overall sparking a 9-2 run as it was a major struggle for every Washington basket in the first quarter to that point.
In the second period, Porter got things started with a three from the wing in transition but more importantly, was making all of the hustle plays defensively. He had very active hands in the second period forcing Toronto into a couple of turnovers which provided a jolt on that end of the floor as Washington was able to slowly cut away at the lead.
Porter’s play in the first half was extremely important and came at a crucial time as this one was on the verge of getting out of hand.
A look back and a look ahead
The Wizards finished off this brutal six-game stretch with a 3-3 record. That’s good news if you’re hoping the Wizards make a playoff push as they showed that they can compete with some of the NBA’s best but bad news if you want the Wizards to start tanking for a better pick.
Washington now heads to London for a ‘home game’ against the New York Knicks on Thursday afternoon.