John Wall and Bradley Beal push around Raptors, help Wizards take 2-0 series lead


The Wizards turned an early 10-point deficit into an 11-point halftime lead, and Bradley Beal had a message for the Raptors:

“They think that we’re some punks. They think that they can push around,” Beal said. “But we’re not rolling.”

Beal backed up his words in the fourth quarter, going out of his way to throw a shoulder into Kyle Lowry while they ran up court. The ref called a double technical, and Lowry held up his arms in protest.

“I didn’t do anything,” Lowry said. “I didn’t do anything.”

No, Lowry didn’t. But Washington – which started hostilities with Paul Pierce’s “it” comment – sure is doing something.

The Wizards – led by John Wall (26 points and 17 assists) and Beal (28 points) beat the Raptors, 117-106, Tuesday to take a 2-0 series lead. For the second straight year, Washington has begun the playoffs with consecutive road wins.

Now, the Raptors are on the defensive, where they really struggle.

After a slow start that included settling for too many mid-range jumpers, the Wizards moved – both the ball and themselves without it – better and pushed the pace to generate efficient offense. Wall (whose scoring and passing numbers are unmatched in a playoff game since Chris Paul in 2008) dictated everything, and Beal played the high-scoring sidekick.

Pierce (10 points) spaced the floor, especially in his minutes at power forward. Otto Porter (15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and nine rebounds) stepped up, and Marcin Gortat (16 points, eight rebounds and three blocks).

The Wizards look like a complete package.

The Raptors, on the other hand, were too often missing their most important piece: Lowry.

Toronto actually outscored Washington by nine points when the All-Star point guard played, but he was limited to just 26 minutes by foul trouble and a leg injury that knocked him out midway through the fourth quarter. It’s unclear whether Lowry will return for Game 3 Friday, and the injury was obviously just tough luck. But, in a tightly officiated game, Lowry was too sloppy with reaching and getting himself into foul trouble.

The Raptors just don’t have the margin of error to play without Lowry, because their defense is dismal. Once the Wizards stopped settling, they torched Toronto – and that’s not something than will be fixed by Friday. Only the Nets reached the playoffs with a worse defense than the Raptors.

Still, Toronto showed heart. After falling behind by 23 in the fourth quarter, the Raptors fought back through most of the final period.

But unlike Game 1, when Washington blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead before winning in overtime, the Wizards hung on in regulation. This was not passive end, though.

Washington has sent its message.

Raptors’ Lou Williams: ‘Staying in Toronto would be ideal for me’


The Raptors didn’t give up much at all to get Lou Williams in trade last summer, but that’s likely to change if they want to keep him on the roster beyond this season.

Williams won Sixth Man of the Year for averaging 15.5 points in 25.2 minutes per game as a reserve, and the timing couldn’t have been better for him personally, considering he’s in the final year of his deal and will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Teams are expected to get a little nuts with contracts in advance of next season, because even if they overpay for players now, those deals will look like bargains once the salary cap spikes in a big way over the next two seasons. Williams says he wants to remain in Toronto, but it’s unclear if the Raptors will offer enough to make it worth his while.

From Josh Lewenberg of

“[Staying in Toronto] would be ideal for me,” he said. “Just the culture that they’re building here, just the identity that this team and this town has, I really want to be a part of it. I look forward to it. I don’t want to say hopefully we get something done, I’m really positive that we will get something done. I don’t see why not, at this point. So I just look forward to the future here.”

Of course, a lot could change between now and July, when NBA free agency officially opens. It takes two to tango – the Raptors would have to be willing to pay up in order to keep Williams from moving south and with the salary cap set to skyrocket the following summer, the market figures to be an unpredictable one.

If another team believes Williams can provide value as a starter while playing heavier minutes per game, it may be willing to come with a high-dollar offer that scares Toronto away.

But Williams has been a reserve for essentially all 10 of his NBA seasons, and if that’s the role he’ll maintain, the Raptors should have no trouble extending an offer that’s to Williams’ liking, and one that’s in line with what he could earn by jumping ship to play somewhere else.

MORE: CSN Washington subscriber? Watch Raptors-Wizards Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. ET

Lou Williams wins Sixth Man of the Year


Isaiah Thomas, Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams were the only eligible players to average at least 15 points per game.

Unsurprisingly, they filled the top three of Sixth Man of the Year voting.

But it was Williams, who ranked third with 15.5 points per game, who took the award.

Here’s the full voting with player, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, points):

1. Lou Williams, Toronto (78-34-10-502)

2. Isaiah Thomas, Boston (33-46-21-324)

3. Jamal Crawford, L.A. Clippers (8-18-37-131)

4. Andre Iguodala, Golden State (7-16-17-100)

5. Tristan Thompson, Cleveland (0-6-15-33)

6. Nikola Mirotic, Chicago (1-4-7-24)

7. Marreese Speights, Golden State (1-2-9-20)

9. Corey Brewer, Houston (1-1-4-12)

9. Manu Ginobili, San Antonio (0-3-3-12)

10. Taj Gibson, Chicago (1-0-3-8)

11. Aaron Brooks, Chicago (0-0-1-1)

11. Chris Kaman, Portland (0-0-1-1)

11. Anthony Morrow, Oklahoma City (0-0-1-1)

11. Dennis Schröder, Atlanta (0-0-1-1)

Williams was a strong candidate, and three of the four of us put him on our hypothetical ballots, including Kurt Helin slotting him at the top. Williams often took over the Raptors’ offense, especially late in games and quarters, and made plays. He wasn’t the most efficient, but Toronto often didn’t put him in position to be.

From top to bottom of this list, there are no egregious choices. I’d have a tough time ranking some of these players a top-three reserve this season, but at least they’re all pretty good and in a reasonable order.

That said, am I the only one who would have voted for Rudy Gobert, even if it’s just on a technicality?

Bradley Beal waves goodbye to Kyle Lowry after Lowry fouls out of Game 1 (VIDEO)


With 2:36 remaining in regulation of the Game 1 matchup between the Raptors and the Wizards, Kyle Lowry fouled Bradley Beal in the act of shooting, and Beal crashed awkwardly to the floor.

It was Lowry’s sixth personal foul, and as he headed to the bench for good after being disqualified, Beal gave him a friendly wave goodbye.

Beal had a dismal game offensively, finishing just 6-of-23 from the field, so he had little reason to be talking. Lowry wasn’t much better, and finished 2-of-10 himself.

The contest was an ugly one, but it was competitive nonetheless. If we can get some personal battles going before the series is finished, the entertainment value will increase exponentially.

MORE: Paul Pierce leads Wizards to overtime Game 1 win over Raptors

Paul Pierce leads Wizards to overtime Game 1 win over Raptors


Paul Pierce ended the Raptors’ postseason run last year with a series-saving blocked shot in Game 7 of the first round matchup while he was a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

A year later, now with the Wizards, he remains the bane of Toronto’s playoff existence.

Pierce finished with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting to lead the Wizards to a 93-86 Game 1 victory, one that needed an overtime session to be decided.

Washington’s backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal struggled, shooting just 5-of-18 and 6-of-23 from the field respectively. But Pierce was there when needed, and scored 10 of his points in the second quarter during a critical stretch that turned a seven-point Toronto lead into a four-point Wizards advantage before the halftime intermission.

Washington’s lead grew to as many as 11 points in the third, thanks to its fifth-ranked defense giving Toronto fits. The Raptors shot just 28 percent in the period, and missed all seven of their attempts from three-point distance.

In the fourth, however, Toronto’s bench unit, which we knew would be a factor coming into the series, was able to bring the team back.  Part of it was due to Beal’s insistence on shooting so much when he was clearly having an off day, but the Raptors took advantage. Lou Williams and Greivis Vasquez each had eight points in the period, and their production was especially needed once Kyle Lowry fouled out of the game with 2:36 to play.

Wall had a chance to win it in regulation, but dribbled down most of the clock before going one-on-one and missing a pull-up jumper with just tenths of a second left.

In overtime, it was once again Pierce time. He began the scoring for the Wizards in the extra session by hitting a three, and ended it by helping to seal the victory with a couple of free throws. Toronto didn’t score in overtime until there were just 29 seconds left, and only did so because the Wizards had a big enough lead and no longer needed to contest the shots.

Pierce was the focus of the Raptors before the series even began, thanks to remarks he made in an interview leading up to the playoffs. “We haven’t done particularly well against Toronto, but I don’t feel they have the ‘It’ that makes you worried,” he said,

Toronto GM Masai Ujiri responded colorfully in front of fans before Game 1, similar to what he did a season ago before a playoff game against Pierce’s Nets.

There were other reasons Washington was able to get this win; the rebounding advantage, especially on the offensive boards, was massive. And, the Wizards got timely contributions from guys like Kevin Seraphin and Drew Gooden off the bench, which hasn’t been something the team has been able to count on reliably this season.

But had the Raptors paid as much attention to Pierce on the court as they did to comments he made off of it, they may have had a better chance in this one — especially on a day where Wall and Beal, the Wizards’ primary scorers, were so obviously out of sync.