TORONTO — The buzz coming from the stands inside Scotiabank Arena ramped up each time Pascal Siakam got the ball in isolation. Fadeaway, layup, pull-up jumper, baseline spin — the Washington Wizards had no answer for any of it, and the crowd was ready to erupt after each bucket.
The Wizards lost their second straight and for the third time in four games by taking a 102-90 defeat against the Raptors. They followed one of their worst games of the season — Friday’s 116-101 home loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers — with an ugly first half that put them in a hole too deep to climb out of.
Siakam put up 31 points, falling one shy of his season high, while adding six rebounds and three assists. He had 17 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the second quarter alone as Toronto went into halftime with a 63-42 lead.
The Wizards scored just 12 points in the first quarter, their fewest in a quarter this season. The offense picked up in the second, but the Raptors scored 40 points to erase any advantage. Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope decried a “lazy mentality” for the slow starts.
“[Siakam is] a really good player,” Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Second half we tried to minimize switching on certain guys. The bottom line, 12-point first quarter, puts you in a hole for us offensively. Second quarter, they got going. Scored 40 points. ... From those two quarters alone, there’s the game.”
Unseld said the Wizards need to limit empty possessions; he believes pressure seems to mount on his players when shots aren’t falling and, in turn, they start to press.
Chris Boucher finished with 14 points off the bench for Toronto, and Precious Achiuwa had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Caldwell-Pope was the lone bright spot for the Wizards: He had 26 points on 8-for-9 shooting (including 4 for 4 from three-point range) after getting hot in the second half. Bradley Beal was Washington’s only other player in double figures with 14.
“Just taking my shots,” Caldwell-Pope said. “Being comfortable. Taking what the defense is giving me. Just playing within the flow of the game. Just wanted to go out tonight and just play basketball. Last game I had a lot going on with the refs. I know that takes me out of my game, and it hurts my team. So tonight I tried to just really focus on myself and get the job done.”
Here is what to know about Sunday’s game:
Centers struggle again
Consistency continues to be an issue for centers Daniel Gafford and Montrezl Harrell. Gafford was held to his second-fewest points of the season Friday and matched that output with four Sunday. He had more fouls (five) than shot attempts (four). Harrell failed to score in double figures for just the second time Friday and matched a season low with six points Sunday.
“It’s not for lack of effort,” Unseld said before the game. “They’re trying to get us going at times, but it’s plays aren’t going their way [or] they’re not going to the line. Whatever it may be, I don’t think it’s an effort issue, which I can live with. The ball just doesn’t go in. It is what it is, but I think they’re just continuing to try to find ways to impact the game for us.”
Beal remains off-target
Beal’s shot continues to be off; he finished 4 for 12 from the field. He has failed to shoot better than 40 percent in each of his past four games.
The NBA’s second-leading scorer last season was held to 19 points or fewer in each of those games, and his 14 points Sunday matched a season low — which he set in Friday’s loss. The Raptors blitzed Beal with traps and sent extra defenders at every opportunity, but Washington wasn’t able to take advantage when he passed out of them.
Sticking with the plan
Wizards point guard Spencer Dinwiddie has not played in the second game of back-to-backs as part of a plan to be careful with his surgically repaired right knee. Washington was set to fly to Indianapolis after Sunday night’s game, with a 7 p.m. tip-off slated for Monday against the Indiana Pacers. Unseld said the Wizards have talked about Dinwiddie sometimes taking off the first half of back-to-backs, but they’re comfortable with the way they have decided to do things.
Dinwiddie continued his recent offensive struggles with nine points on 3-for-11 shooting Sunday.
“We’ve got guys who can score,” Unseld said. “He, I think, takes the mind-set of, ‘I got to set the table for everybody.’ A lot of times we’ve seen him get going late in the second half and all through the fourth quarter. The challenge is finding that balance where you pick your spots and be aggressive. There are times where, I’m not saying he’s turning down shots, but I think he’s looking to keep others involved instead of attacking a matchup that we like. Play downhill — that plays to his strength.
“So maybe it’s me just having a couple more plays specifically for him, and maybe that helps get him going.”
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