Kawhi Leonard scores 27 points as Toronto Raptors hammer Washington Wizards
Kawhi Leonard netted 27 points, as the Toronto Raptors rediscovered their three-point touch in a 125-107 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday.
The win was the Raptors’ fourth in a row, and at 16-4, made for their best start through 20 games in franchise history.
Kyle Lowry added 15 points and nine assists for the Raptors.
Toronto shot a season’s best 17-for-39 from three-point range.
Most importantly, the Raptors second unit outscored Washington’s 59-39. OG Anunoby, playing his first game after missing three with a wrist injury, led the way with 15 points. Fred VanVleet chipped in with 13. Serge Ibaka had 12 and Delon Wright chipped in with 10.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards (6-12) with 20 points.
The Raptors were home from a 3-1 road trip. Their one loss coming in overtime in Boston to kick off the trip. They were playing their first game at Scotiabank Centre since Dwane Casey led his Detroit Pistons to a comeback victory over his old team.
The Raptors led by as many as 16 points in the first half before the Wizards opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run to briefly take the lead. But Toronto closed the third with a 15-6 run to lead 101-87 with one quarter to play.
The Wizards would pull within 10 points early in the fourth. However, by the time Lowry chucked up a circus shot with four and a half minutes to play, the Raptors were fully in the driver’s seat with a 114-99 lead.
The Raptors have struggled from the three-point range on the road. For instance shooting only 38 per cent from long distance in their 124-108 win in Atlanta on Wednesday.
“We are shooting it not very well. I’m crossing my fingers and rubbing my rabbit’s foot that hopefully some of those shots start going in,” coach Nick Nurse said. “I think it’ll go back to the norm, and that’s good news.”
His words proved prophetic because the Raptors missed their first four three-point attempts before the flood gates opened.
“We’re looking for certain shots. We’ve got goals each game of which shots we’re looking for,” Nurse expressed selection analytics. “We’re meeting those and exceeding those guidelines.”
The Raptors, who’d beaten the Wizards 117-113 in Washington on Oct. 19, debuted their gold-on-white OVO city edition jerseys. These were designed in collaboration with Drake. Therefore, the Canadian superstar was in his court side seat for the first time this season.
After their four three-point misses, back-to-back threes by Ibaka and Danny Green kick-started the barrage. This meaning that the Raptors had seven threes in the first quarter. Therefore, leading by 38-26 to start the second.
A reverse layup by Delon Wright gave Toronto a 16-point cushion less than a minute into the second. However, the Wizards closed the gap and a three-pointer by Tomas Satoransky cut Toronto’s lead to 70-62 at halftime.
All in All Nurse was pleased with the Raptors night work. He said: “I think we played some really dominant basketball for stretches. And, again, it’s streaky a bit. You want to try to extend our consistent play and extend that out longer and the times when we’re not playing that well, can’t be so underneath average.”
Next up the Raptors host Miami on Sunday. Before playing Memphis on Tuesday.