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Wizards can’t make the plays they need, fall at home to Raptors

What to know from Washington’s 109-105 loss

Bradley Beal loses control of the ball on his way to one of his nine turnovers in the Wizards' 109-105 loss to the Raptors. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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Toronto rookie Scottie Barnes missed a jumper, and his Raptors teammates went soaring toward the basket with 20 seconds to play, a barrage of white jerseys careening to the hoop. OG Anunoby finally did what no Wizards player could, collecting the crucial rebound before doubling the damage with a layup that effectively ended Washington’s comeback at Capital One Arena.

Such was the story of the Wizards’ 109-105 loss to Toronto. They had a 13-point lead in the first half and ample opportunity to close it out down the stretch but too many self-inflicted wounds in between.

A glowing first quarter defined by crisp, creative ball movement and domination in the paint — even without starter Kyle Kuzma, who was out with neck spasms — deteriorated into slop.

Acting head coach Joseph Blair diagnosed a lack of consistent aggression as his team’s primary flaw.

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“In everything that we do, even when we get called for offensive fouls on screens, they’re tick-tack fouls. They’ll call them or not call them, but we have to set harder screens,” Blair said. “Same thing on defense; we get called for and-one plays — why are we giving up free throws? Why are we giving up layups? If we’re going to foul, foul them. That’s part of being a team and having that mentality, ‘We are an aggressive team.’ ”

The Wizards (23-23) spent two quarters engaging in full self-sabotage, so much so that they trailed by 13 points midway through the fourth quarter despite shooting 50 percent from the field, having nearly 50 points in the paint and winning the rebounding battle.

It was the turnovers — 17 on the night — and not getting to the foul line that cost them most. The Wizards were 5 for 7 from the charity stripe with five minutes left to play against a team that allows opponents to take an average of nearly 22 free throws a game. They finished 8 for 10.

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The Raptors (22-21) controlled the game almost by default because Washington let them have it.

“They go hard, and they play small. They didn’t have any bigs out there, all the same size. They were just hungry,” Beal said.

Blair had seen enough with just under seven minutes remaining and the Wizards trailing by double figures. He put his closers back in, and the team appeared to respond. Spencer Dinwiddie hit a long desperation three-pointer as the shot clock wound down, falling down in the process; Bradley Beal followed with a forceful layup after a missed Raptors three; and Deni Avdija made a crafty bucket at the rim to complete the scoring burst, getting Washington within six.

Backup center Montrezl Harrell made it a two-point game with a three-point play minutes later, then tied it with a dunk with 1:10 to play.

Toronto countered with a seven-point run that sealed its win.

“We have to take wins because no one’s going to give them to us. Like, no matter who we play, no matter where we are, we can give up 20 and no one’s going to falter and say, okay, well, they’re the Washington Wizards, we can stop now,” Blair said. “That’s not going to happen. They’re always going to believe they can come back. … We have to learn to keep fighting back.”

Beal led the Wizards with 25 points and eight assists but had nine turnovers, which matched a career high. Dinwiddie added 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Rui Hachimura had 11 points.

Barnes led the Raptors with 27 points.

Here’s what else there is to know from Friday’s game:

Gafford limited again

Daniel Gafford, the Wizards’ starting center, again saw his minutes capped despite playing well. Gafford had eight points on 3-for-5 shooting, five rebounds and a plus-12 defensive rating yet played only 11:31 as Washington continued to work Thomas Bryant into the rotation.

Blair said he was searching for a different energy under the basket when he subbed Gafford out. Beal described the difficulties of playing an 11-man rotation after the game.

“We have a lot of guys that play the same position, guys that are getting back healthy. . . . [The trade deadline’s] right around the corner, so it’s a lot,” Beal said. “There’s a lot that’s being juggled. Coaches and the organization trying to figure out what they like, players trying to prove themselves, showcase themselves, try to help win games. It’s tough, man.”

Barnes has career night

The Wizards have had a hard time containing Toronto’s standout rookie each time they have played the Raptors. Friday night was no exception.

Barnes reached his career high with more than two minutes left in the third quarter and continued to show off his versatility, finishing with eight rebounds. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound forward with a massive wingspan was frequently guarding Beal on defense, then stepping into the paint on offense to go against centers Gafford, Bryant and Harrell.

Second-quarter issues

Ball movement was so good even without Kuzma in the starting lineup that the Wizards had eight assists on 13 field goals in the first quarter. The Wizards’ energy on the boards — they had seven offensive rebounds — helped extend possessions and build that 13-point lead.

Then came the flurry of turnovers, undoing all the good work. The Wizards had nine giveaways in the period, leading to 18 Toronto points. The Raptors led at halftime 55-54.

Avdija starts

Avdija was back in the starting lineup with Kuzma out. Blair learned the power forward would sit the game out about two hours before tip-off, citing it as another opportunity for the Wizards to test their depth and experiment with rotations.

Kuzma must have been hurting — he watched from the bench dressed in a plain gray sweatsuit, easily his least flamboyant game-night outfit of the season.

Nets coach fined

The Nets were fined $25,000 and assistant coach David Vanterpool was fined $10,000 after Vanterpool interfered with a pass in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday. With less than six minutes left to play, Vanterpool, standing in front of the Nets’ bench, reached a hand out and touched the ball, causing a turnover.

According to the NBA rule book, if an opponent seated on the bench or standing on the sideline interferes with the ball, possession goes to the offended team nearest the spot of the violation.

In a pool report interview, crew chief Ben Taylor said the officials on the floor did not see any deflection on the play.

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