No John Wall, no problem — at least so far.
Although the Washington Wizards were without the All-Star point guard for a third straight game since announcing he’d be out at least six weeks after left knee surgery, the team remained undefeated in his absence, knocking off the Toronto Raptors 122-119 at home Thursday.
The Raptors (34-16) hold the second-best record in the Eastern Conference with an All-Star backcourt in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who scored a total of 52 points along with 11 assists and five steals Thursday.
But Lowry missed one of two free throws with three seconds left in the fourth quarter that would’ve tied the game, and Wizards guard Bradley Beal then made two free throws of his own to seal the victory.
“I’ll never take all the credit for a win because there’s 14 other guys who are all stepping up,” said Beal, who led Washington with 27 points and six assists and will make his first All-Star appearance later this month. “We all know our game has to elevate. [Wall will] be out for a while. We’re running with who we have. It’s always next man up.”
The Wizards (29-22) showcased that Thursday, as Tomas Satoransky replaced Wall in the starting lineup and scored 10 points with four assists in 27 minutes of action. Washington’s bench outscored the Raptors’ reserves 44-23, as power forward Mike Scott provided instant offense with 14 points and shooting guard Jodie Meeks scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“As a team, we have to do a good job of helping [Beal] out with offensive scoring,” Meeks said. “We have to do a good job as a unit with helping each other out. Obviously, we aren’t going to win all of them, but we have to do a good job in trying to win as many as we can.”
Both teams entered the game among two of the top 10 scoring teams in the league. On Thursday, both shot above 51 percent from the floor.
The teams rank 19th and 20th, respectively, in team rebounding. However, the Wizards out-rebounded Toronto 44-32 on Thursday. The Wizards also dished out 30 assists compared to the Raptors’ 20.
Nevertheless, Toronto had a 12-point lead in the first half and led 62-55 at halftime.
“We should have taken advantage of it,” DeRozan said. “We got to understand that we have to come out with more of a sense of urgency.”
Washington heads on the road for three games that begin Saturday in Central Florida against the Orlando Magic (15-35).
Scott said the recipe for the team’s success is simple: “Just moving the ball and guys making shots. Go on this road trip and get three wins.”
Black History Month
Thursday began Black History Month and players will sport warmup shirts all month with 14 words on the front chosen by several NBA players. The words: activate, believe, dream, empower, engage, equality, history, inspire, justice, lead, listen, love, perseverance and unify.
Wizards guard Tim Frazier talked about the importance of Black history, especially growing up in Houston. So far, he’s visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in downtown D.C. twice with his family and friends and once by himself on a day off.
“I’ve heard the stories and the struggles it took for African-American males and females to get where we are today,” he said. “It’s huge for me. We have a month, but I try to focus on it throughout the year.”
Meeks talked about how former NBA players such as Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain played in the civil rights era with very few Black players in the league.
“They paved the way for guys like myself and everybody else in the NBA to be able to make a living and provide for our families,” he said.