PREVIEW: Toronto Raptors look to keep spurt alive against Washington Wizards

By Field Level Media
Feb 8, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks (24) during the second half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors can assure themselves of a winning six-game road trip Wednesday night when they visit the Washington Wizards.

The Raptors are 3-1 on the trip after a 128-113 comeback win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night despite losing Kyle Lowry to back spasms in the first quarter and coach Nick Nurse to technical fouls in the third.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Raptors, check out #WeTheNorth rumors, rankings, and news here.

“We all challenged each other to play harder and be more into it, and that didn’t just include the five guys that were on the floor,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who scored 32 points. “That was also the guys on the bench. We definitely went out there and earned it after giving up 70 (points) in the first half.

“A 27-point third and a 16-point fourth. You can live with that. You can survive that way. So, hopefully, we’ll build on that moving forward.”

The Wizards finished their trip at 2-2 after defeating the Chicago Bulls 105-101 on Monday. The Wizards, who had six games postponed in January because of a COVID-19 outbreak, are 3-3 in their past six games after losing their first four when they resumed playing.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a stretch like this where, great win — two- or three-point win, last seconds of the game — tough loss, great win, same thing,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Three-and-three in the last six. What we’ve gone through, I’m not usually fired up about 3-3, but we’ve gone through a lot, and our guys battled back.”

Wizards center Alex Len, who altered Zach LaVine’s shot on a missed layup with 1.4 seconds to play Wednesday, started the season with Toronto and was released after playing in 16 games. He made his debut with Washington on Jan. 24.

“You’ve got to meet (LaVine) a little bit further from the rim because if you give him that little space, he’s too good,” said Len, who started and had 13 points, two blocks and seven rebounds in just under 21 minutes.

Bradley Beal grabbed the rebound on LaVine’s miss and converted two free throws to end the game. He led the Wizards with 35 points.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Wizards, check out #WashWizards rumors, rankings, and news here

With Russell Westbrook taking the game off for rest, starter Rui Hachimura had 19 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.

“The positive is we went 2-2 on the road,” Beal said. “As tough as it was, COVID kicked our butts, but we did a good job bouncing back with the little practice time we had. We’ve still got to be better. There are still games we feel like we could’ve won. We got smacked by 30 twice, back-to-back, so that’s unacceptable. We’ve still got our work cut out.”

The Raptors also were without OG Anunoby (left-calf strain) on Wednesday; he could return by the time the trip ends in Boston on Thursday.

Toronto had 32 points from Pascal Siakam and 29 from Norman Powell against the Grizzlies.

Nurse’s ejection came with some confusion. A first-half technical foul had been first charged to Siakam, but the officials changed it to Nurse at halftime without informing the coach. The second technical in the third quarter brought an automatic ejection.

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The Grizzlies were leading 94-85 at the time of the ejection, with 3:02 left in the third quarter.

The Raptors have won their past seven games against the Wizards.

–Field Level Media