Wizards win their 2nd in a row and hand Raptors their 10th consecutive loss

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deni Avdija scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma made some big baskets down the stretch to compensate for a rough shooting performance and the Washington Wizards handed the Toronto Raptors their 10th consecutive loss, 112-109 on Saturday night.

With just their third two-game winning streak of the season, the Wizards kept from falling below Detroit for the worst record in the NBA.

“It was a good win for us,” said Jordan Poole, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to spark the rally. “It was a scrappy game. Both teams played good. We both struggled for periods of time, but we managed to stay together through it all.”

Bruce Brown missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer that would have forced overtime, and the short-handed Raptors have not won since March 3.

This was arguably their best chance to end this skid — by far their longest of the season — especially after cutting down on the turnovers that hurt them in a home loss Friday night to Oklahoma City. But Toronto, playing without its top three leading scorers and down to just eight healthy players available, made some costly mistakes and faded late after leading by as many as 11.

“I saw a lot of fight,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “We missed a layup, we missed wide-open shots, we missed a dunk. Obviously guys, they want to make those shots. They want to make the right decisions there. It did not go our way tonight.”

In addition to Poole’s late contributions, Kuzma heated up and went 4 of 6 from the floor in the final minutes after starting 3 of 12 and finished with 16 points.

“That’s what good players do,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. “You find a way. He was missing some shots early that he usually makes, but he put his head down, got to the rim, made some big plays for us.”

Richaun Holmes also grabbed a game-high 14 of the Wizards’ 55 rebounds to Toronto’s 42, along with 15 points.

“We struggled with rebounding the ball,” Rajakovic said. “They scored some timely baskets and tough, contested shots. But the main difference in tonight’s game was rebounding.”

They also struggled to contain Avdija, the ninth pick in the 2020 draft who’s making the most of a bigger role.

“I have trust in him, so we’re definitely putting the ball in his hands more,” Keefe said. “Some of it’s also his rebounding: It leads to him pushing in transition. But his ability to get downhill, get to the rim for himself and for others has been terrific.”

Gary Trent Jr. led the Raptors with 31 points, rookie Gradey Dick scored 17 and Kelly Olynyk had 14 points and 10 assists.

Tristan Vukcevic, a second-round pick in the 2023 draft, played three minutes and had a rebound in his NBA debut for Washington after signing a two-year deal last week. Marvin Bagley III returned to the Wizards lineup after missing the past nine games with lower back spasms and scored 10 points off the bench.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.

Wizards: Visit the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA

DC-based hockey writer covering NHL, Capitals and Commanders