Toward the beginning of the fourth quarter, Scottie Barnes used his long limbs to poke the ball away from Washington Wizards guard Landry Shamet near the top of the key, then turned to tear downcourt, bounding all the way. The Toronto Raptors forward didn’t just score off yet another turnover Wednesday night; he turned the giveaway into a spectacle, sending the ball high in the air to Jalen McDaniels for a flamboyant dunk.
By that point, Barnes had every reason to feel nice and comfortable as the Raptors continued cruising to a 132-102 win at Capital One Arena. The Wizards hardly provided any resistance all night as they allowed their opponent to score at least 130 points for the 14th time in 30 games.
Their defense was essentially nonexistent: The Raptors (12-18) shot 57.1 percent as they strolled through the paint with seemingly little thought from Washington. The visitors had 43 assists on 52 baskets and assisted on all 15 of their three-pointers.
The Raptors also beat the Wizards (5-25) at the game’s uglier elements: Toronto had 20 turnovers to the Wizards’ 17 but managed to eke out more points off giveaways (25 to 21).
“It’s a strength of that team, so we knew that ball security and valuing possession would be key,” said Coach Wes Unseld Jr., whose Wizards have lost three in a row. “Obviously you don’t want to turn the ball over, but when you do, you’ve got to find a way to show a little more resilience to those turnovers, and oftentimes they got behind us. Those turned into layups and dunks.”
OG Anunoby, the Raptors’ third-leading scorer, was crafty as he used the roughly three inches and 40 pounds he had on his primary defender, Jordan Poole. He led all scorers with 26 points on 11-for-16 shooting. Pascal Siakam added 22 points and 11 assists, and Barnes had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
“They just exploited mismatches. They’re a big team; they’re smart,” the Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma said. “They understand their team — when they see a mismatch on the court, they try to hunt it and attack it every time.”
The Wizards’ offense was balanced — seven scorers in double figures, all between 10 and 14 points — but not one player made much of an impact on the second night of a back-to-back. Poole and Kuzma had 14 points apiece, and no one reached double figures in rebounds as Toronto shoved Washington aside on the boards 53-34.
Asked about the Wizards’ rebounding deficit, Unseld reiterated that his team needs to prioritize getting on the boards. Washington has few defense-first players and has struggled in that area all season.
“Some of it is we’re undersized a little bit, but I think it’s just a mind-set as well. We can’t afford to ball-watch, and I think at times we do,” Unseld said. “… [Rebounding] is something that we harp on, and there’s no schematics to boxing out. There’s individual technique, of course; you can do box-out drills and things like that, but there’s just got to be more of a shift in mind-set that this is a priority.”
Short stint for Gallinari
Forward Danilo Gallinari played on the second night of a back-to-back for the first time in his return from ACL surgery in September 2022. While his left knee held up, his back did not — the 35-year-old subbed out early in the second quarter and never returned because of lower-back spasms. He had one rebound in five minutes.
Delon Wright, who was on the court during Tuesday’s loss to Orlando for the first time since Nov. 10 because of a knee sprain, was sidelined for rest purposes as he gradually increases his activity.
Kuzma was listed as questionable because of a right quad contusion he suffered last week at Portland but managed to play anyway, keeping alive his streak of perfect availability.