WASHINGTON â€” The Toronto Raptors knew they’d need a better performance from their bench Friday night than they got in the first game of a home-and-home set with the Washington Wizards.
Norman Powell made sure it happened.
Powell scored a season-high 21 points off the bench, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and the Raptors defeated the Wizards 114-106 on Friday night despite giving back a 19-point first-half lead.
“Our main focus was coming out and playing with energy,” said Powell, part of a second group that outscored Washington’s 44-14. “We didn’t have that back in Toronto.”
DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points, including a key 3-pointer late, and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Raptors (37-25) pulled back into a tie with the Wizards (36-24) for third place in the Eastern Conference. Toronto also secured a 2-1 victory in the season series, a potential playoff seeding tiebreaker.
On Wednesday, Toronto lost to Washington 105-96 due largely to a 26-1 second-quarter run fueled by the Wizards’ reserves.
With three-time All-Star guard Kyle Lowry out for the rest of the regular season following wrist surgery, the Raptors may need more performances like Powell’s to keep their place in the standings.
“That was big,” said DeRozan, Toronto’s other three-time All-Star. “With Kyle out, we need everybody who can be a playmaker, create their own shot and get to the basket to do that. And Norm did it tonight.”
John Wall scored 30 points and Bradley Beal added 27 for Washington, which has lost nine consecutive regular-season series to the Raptors.
Despite taking five more free throws than their opponents, the Wizards appeared frustrated with officiating, a theme through much of their season.
“Every time down the floor, one of our players is on the floor and there’s nothing called,” Beal said. “We can’t continue to blame things on refs. But it is getting frustrating.”
Beal took note that five of Powell’s points in the fourth came at the foul line.
“You would’ve thought he was a second DeRozan out there, the way he was getting calls,” Beal said.
Beal’s baseline 3-pointer gave Washington its only second-half lead at 72-71, before DeRozan hit a baseline jumper a few possessions later to give Toronto the lead for good, 76-74 late in the third quarter.
Washington last got within one possession when Wall’s 3 cut it to 108-105 inside a minute, but DeRozan answered with his own 3-pointer from an almost identical spot with 20.9 seconds left.
That was enough to preserve a victory that could prove vital in the playoff race.
“It’s a game of frustrations, game of mistakes sometimes, but it’s how you play through it and fight through it that is probably going to determine the outcome,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought our guys fought through a lot tonight, individually and collectively.”
Casey removed DeRozan for almost a three-minute stretch early in the third quarter. Shortly after returning, DeRozan hit the final go-ahead jumper of the game, en route to a 20-point second half.
“I wasn’t trying to embarrass him or whatever,” Casey said. “(It) let him sit back, breathe a little bit, get his breath and collect himself and he responded.”
Raptors: Outscored Washington 16-0 in the paint to open the game. … Shot above 60 per cent for most of the first half and entered halftime shooting 59.5 per cent (22 of 37). … Casey picked up his 300th win.
Wizards: Assigned Chris McCullough to Northern Arizona of the NBDL. … Wall had six of his seven assists in the second half. … In his first game since signing with Washington after he was waived by the Knicks, G Brandon Jennings was scoreless on three shots over 10 minutes.
In addition to C Ian Mahinmi (knee injury) and G Bojan Bogdanovic (trade), Jennings becomes the third player to join the Wizards bench rotation since Feb. 8. Jennings’ arrival came with 23 games left in the season.
“I’ve never had it this late as a head coach,” Brooks said of the additions. “Like I tell the players, there’s no excuses.”
Raptors: Complete their 14th of 17 back-to-back game sets on Saturday in Milwaukee.
Wizards: Look to avoid a three-game season sweep when they welcome Orlando on Sunday.
Ian Quillen, The Associated Press