Raptors limit Wizards with physical defense


WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 109-100 at Capital One Arena on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from what went down...

Two straight losses

Both Kyle Kuzma and head coach Wes Unseld Jr. - two guys with experience being part of very good NBA teams - spoke before the game about how they wanted to avoid losing two games in a row. After the team's 5-1 start, they lost on Monday and didn't want it to carry over to make it two straight. 

Unfortunately for them, that's just what happened as they caught a Raptors team riding a hot streak and suffered their second consecutive loss for the first time this season. The Wizards are now 5-3 with a tough game against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies up next. 

Much like in their loss to the Hawks on Monday, the Wizards had trouble sealing the 3-point line. The Raptors shot 10-for-25 from deep, good for 40%. The Wizards have been one of the best teams in the NBA at defending the perimeter so far this season, but both Atlanta and Toronto were able to break through.

Toronto also played suffocating defense. The Wizards shot just 8-for-32 (25%) from long range 

Different Raptors team

The Wizards didn't just beat the Raptors in their season-opener, they blasted them. They held them to 83 points and 30.9% shooting, numbers not seen around here in years. While it was an impressive win, it didn't come against the Raptors at full-strength. They were missing star forward Pascal Siakam and hadn't played in a week due to a bizarre post-preseason layoff.

They didn't have Siakam on Wednesday, or standout rookie Scottie Barnes, but looked much better, like a team that was 5-3 and winners of two straight entering this matchup. Fred VanVleet, long a Wizards killer, went off for 33 points. Gary Trent Jr., an emerging Wizards killer, added 15 points. OG Anunoby was a force with 21 points, five rebounds and plenty of physical defense. And Svi Mykhailiuk went off for 15 points. It was another reminder that this isn't the Eastern Conference of yesteryear.

Avdija was solid

Deni Avdija got hot in the third quarter to score nine points, tying his career-high for points in quarter. He ended up with 11 points and six rebounds, shooting 4-for-7 from the field. Avdija continues to rebound the ball well, having entered the game averaging 8.6 boards per-36 minutes.

Avdija did a nice job running the floor in transition once again, but also once again he had trouble finishing at the basket. Twice in the first half, Avdija got free for one-on-one fastbreak opportunities, each time getting fouled on plays where he had a chance to make it an and-1.

It has been such a trend this season that it is skewing his numbers. He has even missed some uncontested plays at the rim. The good news is those should be easy to fix because he has the size and athleticism to go up and dunk it.

Kuzma left with injury

The Wizards got another dose of tough luck in the injury department as Kuzma left in the third quarter holding his right forearm/wrist. He was trailing Anunoby on a drive to the rim and sort of hand-checked him on the side. Seconds later, he looked down and his arm and began wincing in pain. He called over to the bench to remove himself from the game and immediately exited for the locker room.

Kuzma was ruled out for the rest of the game soon after he departed with what the team described as a right forearm contusion. He had two points on 1-for-10 shooting, including 0-for-5 from three.

It is never easy to judge the severity of an injury in the moment, especially without any medial expertise, just look at how things went with Daniel Gafford recently. But there is no question the Wizards can ill-afford to lose Kuzma, especially with Rui Hachimura still out following his long absence due to personal reasons. Kuzma has been one of the Wizards' best scorers, defenders and their best rebounder so far this season.

Opportunity for Kispert

Unseld Jr. shared some news about Davis Bertans' ankle injury before the game that indicates it was a bit worse than it may have looked when he first injured himself in Monday's game. Bertans is considered week-to-week and Unseld Jr. essentially ruled him out for the rest of this week, meaning he is likely to miss at least a few more games.

The Wizards play the Grizzlies on Friday and Bucks on Sunday. They will then go to Cleveland to play the Cavs on Wednesday. However long he's out, it will represent a good opportunity for rookie ninth overall pick Corey Kispert. He played a career-high 16 minutes against the Raptors and made a nice corner three in the first half. He ended up with four points on 1-for-3 shooting. He also got his first technical foul and was on the wrong end of his first poster dunk, a vicious slam by Precious Achiuwa. Welcome to the league, rookie.

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