Raptors look for ninth straight win vs. Wizards

NBA Basketball

The Toronto Raptors aim to continue their mastery of the Washington Wizards on Monday night when the teams meet in Tampa, Fla.

The Raptors have won eight straight regular-season encounters against the Wizards, including a 137-115 rout in Washington on Feb. 10. That win was part of a 9-3 stretch for Toronto, however the Raptorssaw the bottom fall out with losses in 15 of their next 17 games.

The Raptors put a temporary halt to that slide with an emphatic 130-77 romp over the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Pascal Siakam celebrated his 27th birthday by erupting for a season-high 36 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.

“Losing is not fun, and anything that lifts us out of that is good,” Siakam said. “The hardest thing to do when you’re losing is to stay together, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do. Obviously, it’s just one game, and we’ve got to get some wins in a row.”

Siakam made three 3-pointers and finished with 26 points in Toronto’s lopsided victory over the Wizards in February. The Raptors drained 19 3-pointers as a team, with Kyle Lowry leading the way with five of them.

Lowry, however, is sidelined with a foot injury and the Raptors’ depth a point guard took another hit on Friday as Fred VanVleet exited the contest in the third quarter with a strained left hip flexor.

Rookie Malachi Flynn stepped up and scored a career-high 16 points while playing a season-high 31 minutes on Friday.

“We’ve been on the floor a lot more lately. They’ve been very good out there. We’re teaching and building and showing the new guys things,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said.

“They’re good, and it’s nice to see a lot of the little things you’re working and see some improvement. I know it’s not much of a game (on Friday), but at least there was lots of aggressive defense, there was a lot of help, there was a lot of good block-outs — all the things we’re working on.”

Washington is in need of working on a few things as well, considering the Wizards have lost three in a row and 11 of their 14 games since the All-Star break.

Russell Westbrook collected 26 points and 14 rebounds in Washington’s 109-87 setback to Dallas on Saturday. The performance, while impressive, halted a string of four straight triple-doubles for Westbrook.

The overall point total was a season low for Washington, which opens a six-game road trip on Monday.

Bradley Beal has missed four straight games with a right hip contusion. Beal, who averages an NBA-best 31.3 points per game, scored 24 in the previous encounter with Toronto.

In addition to Beal, third-leading scorer Rui Hachimura sat out Saturday’s game with tightness in his right shoulder.

“I have no idea how long he’s going to be out. I don’t know if it’s a game or if it’s five games,” coach Scott Brooks said of Hachimura, who is averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

–Field Level Media

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