The Wizards (6-16) kept a good heap of that effort in a 137-115 loss to the Toronto Raptors, pulling within nine points with just more than four minutes remaining. But down the stretch, it mattered not how hard Washington played. The team’s defense simply didn’t measure up, especially when it came to stopping the Raptors from the three-point line.
The Raptors (12-13), who have relocated from Toronto to Tampa during the coronavirus pandemic, looked quite at home on the Wizards’ home floor. They set up camp in the first quarter and shot 19 for 32 from beyond the arc, more than making up for the 12 turnovers they committed. They shot 52.7 percent overall and 59.4 percent from the three-point line.
“That’s tough to do in an open gym,” Brooks said on a videoconference. “We’ve watched film, we talked about the guys, and we didn’t close out all the way on open shooters. . . . We struggled. Cut the lead I think to six, a couple of times, and they came and hit a big shot. They extended the lead like three times on us when we cut the lead to six, seven, eight points. They made shots, and we helped them make them.”
Guard Norman Powell led the Raptors with 28 points, going 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. Pascal Siakam had 26 points, also making 3 of 4 from three.
Washington showed hints of the determination that Brooks praised and took advantage of a lapse from Toronto to cut the lead to five with just over eight minutes to play on a three from Russell Westbrook. But poor transition defense led to a pair of free throws from Chris Boucher and then a deep ball from Powell for a five-point run from Toronto.
It seemed every time the Wizards mounted an attack, the Raptors responded with the same type of play — a far-too-easy three that bumped the score back into comfortable territory and sapped Washington’s energy at the same time.
“It’s frustrating because we’re in games, we have opportunities to win, like, we were down four or six, whatever it was . . . we’re right there in the game,” Bradley Beal said. “And all of a sudden I look up and we’re down 10. We’re down 15. It’s like, well. How are these runs happening, and why aren’t we closing out games the way we need to? It’s always a few mistakes here and there.
“We got to be able to guard and make shots. Guard and make shots down the stretch.”
Beal led his team with 24 points on 8-for-20 shooting and had five assists while Westbrook worked his way back from a worrisome start for 23 points on 9-for-20 shooting. The point guard added seven assists and six rebounds to balance out five sloppy turnovers and his eighth technical foul in 15 games.
Both were on the bench in the final minutes as Brooks let his subs finish the game.
Rui Hachimura added 15 points and seven rebounds in another solid performance that nonetheless did little to tilt the outcome. Backup center Robin Lopez added 13 points, and starter Alex Len — who came to the Wizards from Toronto — added 11.
Washington’s woes began in the opening quarter.
Brooks kept Davis Bertans (3 for 9 from three) and Len in the starting lineup, and Washington gave up 40 points in the first quarter again, this time allowing Toronto to feast from three and hit 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. At halftime, the Raptors were shooting 59 percent from the field, 57 percent from three and 80 percent from the free throw line.
On offense, the Wizards ran with Beal, Hachimura and Lopez while Westbrook looked as if he had regressed after an impressive stretch of games a little over a week ago. The point guard made just 2 of 8 from the field and had four turnovers to go with three rebounds and four assists, but beyond his numbers, he was absent on defense for stretches and settled for the type of jumpers that he turned to earlier in the season when he was injured.
“I turned the ball over too many times in the first half hoping to pass,” Westbrook said of his improvement after halftime. “Just have to be aggressive, pick my spots better. I just made an adjustment.”