Lowry said that even without Leonard in the lineup, he won’t try to overdo it.
“I’m never going to force it. Whatever happens, I stay within the game, I always trust my teammates in every situation,” Lowry said.
Toronto came in with a pair of wins already under its belt, while Washington had dropped a tough opener by a point at home and was eager to get going.
Both sides struggled immensely in the early going though, shooting well under 40% in the opening quarter before getting going in the second.
Toronto looked to be in full control, up 12 near the end of the first half, before imploding and allowing the Wizards to close within three points at the break.
“We just needed, for myself, to slow down,” said Norman Powell, who drew the start and was a game-best +20, with seven points and five rebounds.
“I thought we had a lot of turnovers in a short span. They went on a little run, but we just had to get back to playing our brand of basketball … we were fine once we were able to run our offence and get attempts.”
Scott Brooks was about to wind up for a haymaker on the ref.pic.twitter.com/J2BJMu1rgN
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 21, 2018
John Wall is a brash star who can take over stretches of games; Beal is a notorious Raptor killer — he says he put on 20 pounds of “sympathy weight” this summer, eating a steady diet of pizza and ice cream along with his pregnant wife in a show of solidarity, but showed no ill effects while scoring a game-high 32 points; Otto Porter has sunk the Raptors before and is a continual threat to do it again. There’s even a Morris twin.
And then there’s Kelly Oubre.
After he called out Delon Wright during last year’s series, he became enemy number one for Raptors fans. So far this season he is only growing that reputation around the NBA, too. Just ask Miami Heat fans.
Credit where it’s due, Oubre put on a great villainous performance on Saturday. While matching up with Pascal Siakam late in the fourth — for reasons only Scott Brooks can explain — the two were jawing back and forth. Siakam was especially boisterous after locking up Oubre along the sideline and forcing him to dribble the ball off his foot and out of bounds.
Beal acknowledges it. He recognizes that wins speak louder than words.
“We still got to go out and win, and we realize that,” Beal said. “I think we’re pretty much done talking about it. Coach is sick of hearing it. Ted [Leonsis] is damn sure sick of hearing it, and we just got to go out and win games, man.”
Wall senses it. He understands the opportunity for contention won’t last forever.
“It’s a window,” Wall said at his locker before Saturday night’s 117-113 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Capital One Arena. “We ain’t going to have too many more windows where we can stay together, you know what I mean?”
The Raptors are a case in point. They know continuity can last only so long until tough decisions must be made.
Toronto took a flamethrower to its foundation over the summer — making the franchise-altering decision to trade DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard. And Saturday night, with Leonard staying at home on the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors improved to 3-0 while the Wizards fell to 0-2.
The hard way: It was the second quarter before either team managed to build much a lead, with the Raptors jumping ahead by 12 points. But a turnover by Lowry plus a turnover and a foul by Powell helped Washington go on an 11-0 run that brought the home team within three at the half. After six turnovers early in the third quarter, the Raptors locked in and took an eight-point lead into the fourth.
Late and great: Players not named Lowry, Valanciunas or Anunoby combined for just 19 of Toronto’s 57 first-half points. The rest of the lineup upped the ante in the second half, though, with 42 of the Raptors’ 60 points.
When NBA referee Scott Foster spoke to the Washington media prior to the season, he mentioned that there would be growing pains among the referees, the players and the coaches, as a result of the new rules that were being enforced. Coach Brooks also had the media’s ear prior to the start of the regular season and he said his message to his team was “shut up and play”. He wanted the Wizards to stop talking to other teams, stop boasting via the media, and stop chirping to the referees.
There were questionable calls doled out to both teams throughout the game and for the first three quarters both teams reacted reasonably. However, things turned in the fourth quarter after Wall drove to the basket and was called for a turnover instead of drawing the foul. Wall pleaded his case to the referees respectfully, but Beal was a bit more demonstrative and got a technical foul. Coach Brooks could have diffused the situation by calling his team to the bench, but instead he chose to passionately engage with the referees, and he was ejected. After the game, Brooks was in the awkward position of having to explain away the very behavior that he implored his players to avoid. He apologized to his team and the media and said that he promised to do a better job.
Raptors are going to be a problem
We knew the Raptors would be good and potentially even better this season with Leonard in the place of DeMar DeRozan. As good as DeRozan is, and he’s very good, Leonard is even better.
What many may be sleeping on is the potential of the rest of their roster. Danny Green was a nice pickup in the Leonard trade and they have a host of young guys who continue to get better. O.G. Anunoby is a rare athlete who already makes a big impact on defense and has an improving feel for the game on offense.
Fred Van Vleet, now with a new contract, can change games with his quickness and smarts. Already a force on defense, Pascal Siakam is starting to develop some clever offensive moves.
Siakam had one play in the fourth quarter that was particularly surprising. He got the ball in the slot, drove to his left and threw down a two-handed, and-1 posterdunk.
The Raptors may be deeper than they were last year because they have so many young players on the rise and they were one of the deepest teams in basketball in 2017-18.
Bradley Beal was one of the Wizards’ bright spots, pouring in 32 points and hitting six 3’s to take sole possession of the all-time franchise record for career 3-pointers.
“I wasn’t aware, but that’s a blessing,” said Beal. “That’s amazing and I’m honored. I won’t say that was a goal of mine, that’s a pretty cool accomplishment to have and one that I’m proud of. I wish it was a win on top of this, but I’m proud.”
John Wall added 25 points and six assists, but Washington faltered down the stretch and couldn’t complete a late comeback after whittling down a 13-point deficit to just two with around a minute left.
After the Wizards fell down 13 with seven minutes remaining in the game, the team found energy after head coach Scott Brooks was ejected for arguing with officials. A 13-3 Washington run followed in the next five minutes, highlighted by a barrage of 3-pointers, two of which came from Beal. In response, Kyle Lowry and Fred Van Vleet hit a pair of big shots in the final minute to hold off a motivated Wizards team.
On the night, six Raptors reached double figures, led by Kyle Lowry’s 28 points and 12 assists. Serge Ibaka added 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench, while Van Vleet scored 13 for the second unit.
Washington certainly scored enough points to win, but ended up giving Toronto too many easy chances throughout the game. The Raptors outrebounded the Wizards, 52-37, and scored 17 second chance points. Moreover, Toronto outscored Washington in the paint, 48-38 on the night. The paint was a major factor Saturday, and success in that area is something that figures to improve once Howard returns to the Wizards lineup
Wall chipped in 25 points with six assists and four steals but also four turnovers.
“I don’t know, man,” Beal said of the officiating. “We try not to get emotional. I thought we did a good job of staying poised the whole game, but some stuff just gets out of hand. I disagree with the call on John. He got tripped. The ref told me I ran up on him, so he called tech, so I guess he felt threatened.
“Next thing I know, Coach Brooks is gone.”
Brooks watched the rest of the game from the locker room and afterward pointed out a failure to gather rebounds at critical junctures in the fourth quarter.
One such sequence unfolded when Raptors forward Serge Ibaka gather consecutive offensive rebounds, the second leading to a three-pointer by guard Kyle Lowry. The Raptors all-star guard finished with 28 points and 12 assists.
A 20-9 run to close the third quarter pushed Toronto in front, 90-82, with Washington’s second unit offering little defensive resistance nor providing much in the way of scoring.
VanVleet was particularly bothersome to the Wizards in that stretch, puling up for a jumper and sinking a three-pointer that produced a 90-80 lead until Tomas Satoransky made a pair of free throws shortly before Brooks’s ejection.
“We got our ass kicked,” Beal said of a 52-37 rebounding deficit one game after the Wizards were outrebounded by the Miami Heat, 55-40. “That’s two games in a row. If we want to play small, we’ve got to box out.”
In a first frame to be both remembered and forgotten, Raps fans got looks at point-centre Jonas Valanciunas doing it all himself and also too-early-but-not-often Lorenzo Brown. The back-and-forth battle that came to define this game was present throughout: Small, early Wizards leads to start dissipated by the end of the 1st quarter. The Raptors took the lead, 24-22.
The 2nd quarter seemed to flow better, but that could have something to do with both an increased surge on offence and maybe a decreased effort on the defensive end. Again, let’s talk about the back-and-forth: The Raps won the middle section of the quarter strongly, spurred on by a 10-0 run (eight in a row from Kyle, two from Jonas Valanciunas free throws), but the Wizards closed more strongly with an 11-0 run of their own.
The Raptors took a 57-54 lead into the 3rd quarter and the sluggish end to the 2nd somehow transferred over the halftime break. Turnovers turned into Wizards points regularly, as an 8-0 run from John Wall and the Wiz gave the home team a 62-59 lead.
Checking in with 5:52 left in the quarter, Fred VanVleet made this quarter his own as he often does. The Raptors were down 71-69 when he checked in and they were up 90-82 at the end of the frame. His seven points and two assists in the quarter helped get the Raptors moving.