Raptors edge Wizards out in double overtime

Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard hanging on to the rim after a dunk over Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. The Raptors, who improved to a league-leading 33-12, racked up their fifth straight win.
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard hanging on to the rim after a dunk over Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. The Raptors, who improved to a league-leading 33-12, racked up their fifth straight win.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • It took a snowstorm outside and the best team in the National Basketball Association (NBA) to cool off the Washington Wizards' mini hot streak on Sunday.

After taking care of two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference in their previous two games, the Wizards mounted a late comeback attempt against the Toronto Raptors but ultimately fell, 140-138, in double overtime.

The loss featured a slower-than-slow start but morphed into a display of the type of sharp play that earned victories against the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Raptors, who improved to a league-leading 33-12 and racked up their fifth straight win, burst out of the gate and were up 51-28 late in the second quarter, and by 17 with less than a minute to play in the third at the Capital One Arena.

Washington (18-26), however, chipped away at their lead and were fuelled by Bradley Beal's second career triple-double with 43 points, a game-high 15 assists and 10 rebounds.

The All-Star led all scorers with his six-for-12 shooting from behind the arc helping the Wizards to set a franchise record with 19 three-pointers in a single game.

But the effort of Kawhi Leonard, who paced the visitors with 41 points and 10 of those coming in overtime, was too strong to overcome as Toronto finally put away their opponents in a game that coach Nick Nurse felt they "were lucky to get out of here with a win".

Serge Ibaka drained the go-ahead three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the second overtime, but instead opted to shine the limelight on his "superstar" teammate.

He told reporters: "That's how we need him to play and he did his job. When we need him to step up and make big plays, he did them for us."

While the Wizards were crestfallen at coming up just short, their coach Scott Brooks said he was "proud of our guys (for) the way they battled".

He added: "It was a great game. Any time you have two teams lay everything they have on the floor, you can walk away knowing that you did your best, and tonight was one of those games.

"Disappointed that we didn't get the win, but if we keep playing like this, we're going to be in a lot of good games and in a good position to win these games in the end."

Brooks also hailed Beal for stepping up in the absence of five-time All-Star John Wall, who was ruled out for the rest of the season late last month with a heel injury.

He said: "Made big shot after big shot after big shot, and we needed every bit... He competes. He puts us in the position to win, that's what your All-Stars are supposed to do."

In Los Angeles, Cedi Osman scored 20 points, and Rodney Hood added 18 as the Cleveland Cavaliers put an end to their 12-game losing streak, hanging on for a 101-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

While the visitors remain the only NBA team yet to reach double digits in wins, the home team's form was only marginally better, having gone 3-7 in the absence of LeBron James.

The 14-time All-Star has yet to play since suffering a groin injury in the Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2019, with the headline 'Raptors edge Wizards out in double overtime'. Print Edition | Subscribe