That was the dumbest shit I’ve ever been obligated to sit through.
Toronto beat the Wizards on Sunday afternoon. And while I know it’s my responsibility to regale you with the details of how the whole thing went down, I’m not sure that’ll be possible.
What is certain is that it was a 140-138 win for the Raptors that took two overtimes to complete. What happened earlier in this game is harder to recall; that time feels like a bygone era to which we are connected only by decaying scrolls and faded paintings on cave walls.
I’m pretty sure there was a time at which the Raptors had this one certifiably in hand — at least that’s what I can infer from my slanderous twitter timeline. Jotted down in my notes it says here that Toronto leaped out to a quick 9-0 run, inciting a Scott Brooks timeout 109 seconds into the game.
From there the Raptors toyed with the barely-alive Wizards the way you’ll sometimes see killer whales dickishly toss their seal prey around like a NERF ball before eating it. Washington was listless, and Toronto’s offense hit what might be its new season-long benchmark for cohesion and verve. Pascal Siakam (10) and Kawhi Leonard (12) outscored the Wiz on their own in the opening frame; Kyle Lowry was in true November 2018 form as he dictated the Raps attack.
Delon Wright and Norman Powell brought juice off the bench, too. Directed by a smartly-subbed Lowry, Wright and Powell more than made up for the absence of Fred VanVleet — Wright doing so with an array of slippery drives and finishes; Powell with pair of flowy threes and a powerful driving lefty finish off a sweet Wright dish. The latter finished with 9 points on five shots in just 13 minutes; the former had a line of 17-6-3 and probably should have played way more than 22 minutes of run he received. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Of course, this game was in Washington, so there were the to-be-expected flourishes of temporarily giving a shit the Wizards tend to bust out whenever their deficit extends past 15 points. No one loves draining a triple to bring his team to within three possessions of tying more than Bradley Beal.
Beal, man. His inability to win anything meaningful and the theatrics with which he celebrates his empty calorie buckets often do a good job of concealing that he’s actually, uhm, really good at basketball. And it’s impossible not to acknowledge his exploits on Sunday afternoon. With the Raptors on the brink of welcoming Patrick McCaw’s debut and other garbage time fun with a 14-point lead after 36 minutes, Beal, free of the straight-jacket that so obviously is the injured John Wall, dropped 21 points in the fourth quarter — a frame in which Washington hit its first 12 shots from the field — and morphed afternoon nap fuel into a nail-biter on his own. (Otto Porter helped, too. It’s amazing how much everyone loves not playing with Wall.)
Beal’s heroics set the stage for — and this can not be overstated — one of the stupidest finishes in the history of the Toronto Raptors. It was so stupid, in fact, that it makes the thing Michael Ruffin once did in that very arena seem less stupid.
Folks, the thing Michael Ruffin did was impossibly stupid.
what was the dumber raps/wiz game in washington— Sean Woodley (@WoodleySean) January 13, 2019
The dumb shit that happened includes but is not limited to:
- Siakam’s third very bad turnover of the night. The other two were hilarious and had comparatively low stakes.
- A Leonard basket on which he one hundred thousand percent should have been called for a push-off foul.
- Danny Green missing two wide-open corner threes, one at the end of regulation, one in one of the overtimes. He hasn’t missed one of those all year, or at least it would seem.
- Bad Crunch Time Play Calling Exhibit #1 — A failed Leonard ISO with the shot clock off that... did not use the entire clock (?), and gave Jeff Green a chance to win it at the end of regulation. Thankfully, the Raptors were spared that embarrassment.
- Leonard scoring all of Toronto’s eight points in the first OT — despite carrying a noticeable limp.
- A Porter three to tie it at 129 after a 23.5 second-long defensive stand by the Raptors that yielded an offensive rebound.
- Bad Crunch Time Play Calling Exhibit #2 — With 6.8 seconds to go, Nurse had it tossed to Lowry in the back court. He then dribbled up, used a screen, and fired a three over Thomas Bryant or Jeff Green — it doesn’t matter who, just know that the person was like a foot taller than Lowry — despite the game being tied and the Raptors not needing a three to win. Leonard did not touch the ball at all on the play.
- Neither coach making a substitution until OG Anunoby replaced a fouled-out Siakam (that foul call was dumb too). I’m convinced the Raptors win by 10 if Nurse simply subs in Wright and/or Powell for any two gasping and exhausted Raptors due to fresh legs alone.
- Both Beal and Lowry playing 50+ minutes in a mid-January game.
- Serge Ibaka hitting a crunch time three, which doesn’t happen.
ibaka is now 1 for 16 on crunch-time threes the past 2 seasons— Joe Wolfond (@joey_doubleyou) January 13, 2019
IBAKA IS NOW 2 OF 17 ON CRUNCH-TIME THREES THE PAST 2 SEASONS https://t.co/i2MIANVNBu— Joe Wolfond (@joey_doubleyou) January 13, 2019
- Lowry flying at Beal’s head on the last-second hail Mary attempt by Washington as if he were a Philadelphia Eagles strong safety, and not getting called for anything.
I told, you this game was really dumb.
Alas, the Raptors won the stupid game. Considering how impossibly tired he must have been, it’s inexplicable than Leonard canned an efficient 41 points on 15-of-29 shooting to go along with 11 boards and five assists. Again, as much as the latter stages of this game might make you want to forget it, there were moments in this game where we saw the very best of what the Raptors offense with Leonard as an active participant has to offer.
Before fouling out, Siakam racked up 24 points and 19 rebounds paired with two dimes and three steals. He’s really goddamned good and the All-Star talk about him feels less and less far-fetched by the week.
Even Lowry, who couldn’t get a shot to fall to save his life in the fourth quarter and overtime(s), did a lot of the Lowry-ish things that make him so indispensable to the Raptors.
So yes, this game had its many, many annoyances. The Wizards showing genuinely respectable fight was as troubling as it was irritating. But after all 58 minutes of it, the Raptors can at least say they came away from the very dumb game with their fifth win in a row, and a continued stay atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The Wizards, meanwhile, probably feel about as awful as anyone who watched the last 15 minutes of the game. May we always have the Wizards to compare our moods and feelings to.