Kawhi Leonard leads Raptors to win over Wizards

Kawhi Leonard drops a game-high 27 points with 10 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors take care of the Washington Wizards 125-107.

TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard grabbed a defensive rebound Friday night and then sprinted coast-to-coast for a dunk, seemingly without breaking a sweat. Washington’s Tomas Satoransky, the lone man in Leonard’s way, stepped aside, wanting no part of the onrushing Raptor.

The Raptors star had 27 points and hauled down 10 rebounds, and Toronto rediscovered its three-point touch, in a 125-107 victory over the Wizards on Friday — Toronto’s fourth consecutive win.

"A guy like that, you hardly even know they’re pouring them in like that sometimes," coach Nick Nurse said of Leonard. "Gosh, again, 12-for-22 (shooting), that could really easily have been 16-or 17-for-22 … so I still think there’s going to be a night when we’re in here talking about his 19-for-22."

The Raptors boosted their NBA-best record to 16-4, for their best start through 20 games in franchise history.

Toronto shot a season’s best 17-for-39 from three-point range.

"It was good to make some shots tonight …," said Kyle Lowry, who had 15 points and nine assists. "We’ve got great shooters out here, we’ve got good shooters in our team. When we get those games where we shoot the ball well, it’s a big advantage."

The Raptors’ second unit outscored Washington’s 59-39. OG Anunoby, playing his first game after missing three with a wrist injury, led the way with 15 points, while Fred VanVleet chipped in with 13, Serge Ibaka had 12, and Delon Wright chipped in with 10.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards (6-12) with 20 points.

The Raptors were back home from a 3-1 road trip, their one loss coming in overtime in Boston to kick off the trip. They were playing their first game at Scotiabank Centre since Dwane Casey led his Detroit Pistons to a comeback — and revenge — victory over his old team.

The Raptors led by as many as 16 points in the first half before the Wizards — Toronto’s first-round opponent in last season’s playoffs — opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run to briefly take the lead. But Toronto closed the third with a 15-6 run to lead 101-87 with one quarter to play.

The Wizards would pull within 10 points early in the fourth, but by the time Lowry chucked up a circus shot with four and a half minutes to play, the Raptors were fully in the driver’s seat with a 114-99 lead.

Leonard, who picked apart the Wizards virtually at will, drew praise from Washington coach Scott Brooks.

"He’s back," Brooks said. "You can probably say he is the best two-way player in basketball. And the way he takes the challenge of guarding the best players every night — and that takes a lot out of you physically — but mentally you have to be strong to challenge yourself every possession to guard the best players."

The even-keeled Leonard shrugged off the compliment, saying "I’ve been playing basketball like this my whole life, always wanted to guard the best player, and make an effort on the offensive end as well.

"So, it’s kinda just second nature just going out there, it’s just in my brain early to just go play this way."

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And after much angst about Toronto’s recent three-point shooting, they finally rediscovered their long-range game. They missed their first four three attempts on the night before the floodgates opened. Danny Green, Anunoby, and VanVleet had three each on the night.

"I think when guys are hitting them, I think it does spread," Nurse said. "It was good to see them going that way, maybe we are on the way back to evening things out."

The Raptors, who’d beaten the Wizards 117-113 in Washington on Oct. 19, debuted their gold-on-white OVO city edition jerseys designed in collaboration with Drake, who was in his courtside seat for the first time this season.

After their four three-point misses, back-to-back threes by Ibaka and Green kick-started the barrage. Toronto had seven threes in the first quarter, and led 38-26 to start the second.

A reverse layup by Delon Wright gave Toronto a 16-point cushion less than a minute into the second, but the Wizards closed the gap and a three-pointer by Tomas Satoransky cut Toronto’s lead to 70-62 at halftime.

The Raptors host Miami on Sunday, then play in Memphis on Tuesday before returning home to host the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.


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