Injury-riddled Raptors hold off injury-riddled Wizards' late comeback

Mike DePrisco
NBC Sports Washington

Friday night's Wizards vs. Raptors matchup featured 11 inactive players due to injuries and Toronto made enough plays at the end to hold off an impressive late push by Washington. 

After blowing an 18-point fourth-quarter lead against the Bulls Wednesday, the Wizards shook it off well and competed with one of the best teams in the East on the road. 

Here are five takeaways from the game. 

Bradley Beal bounces back

Beal probably felt the worst out of all the Wizards after Wednesday night's collapse. He shot 21 percent from the field, went 1-for-9 from three and had his game-winning jumper basically erased by a dumb foul by his teammate. 

On Friday, Beal came out against the third-ranked defense in the NBA and cooked. 

He ended with 37 points seven rebounds and six assists and kept the Wizards in it late when the Raptors tried to pull away.

Beal's faced a ton of double teams lately and he's still trying to navigate aggressive defenses while maintaining his efficiency. There are some nights like Wednesday where he can't seem to get anything going, and there are nights like this one where a really good team has no hope of slowing him down. 

It's time to start Ish Smith full-time

Ish Smith is a career-backup point guard, but on this team, he's shown enough to earn the long-term starting spot alongside Bradley Beal. 

The offense moves more effectively with his dribble penetration, he constantly puts pressure on opposing defenses and the Wizards have been better on the defensive end with him as well. 

Smith finished with 26 points on a perfect 9-for-9 from the field. 

This isn't meant to be a shot at Isaiah Thomas. In an ideal world, he and Beal would operate as a two-headed scoring monster that other team's backcourts have no hope to stop. 

But at this point in Thomas' recovery from basically a full-year away from regular minutes, it's clear he isn't all the way back yet. Physically he may be fine, but his feel on the floor and his timing on different types of decisions are not. Thomas could be better served to return to the second unit and get more opportunities with the ball in his hands. 

Raptors show their championship pedigree

The Raptors were down Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol but still moved the ball effectively, played the right way on both sides of the ball and hit big shots when they needed to. That's a Nick Nurse team in a nutshell. 

Credit to the Raptors for sustaining a winning brand of basketball even though their best player was out, though they've been doing it all season.

When the game grew tight after an explosion from Beal, Toronto stayed poised and made the right plays down the stretch. It proved to be the difference and a lesson the Wizards can take moving forward. 

The Wizards need more capable wings

Tommy Sheppard has an important offseason ahead of him this summer, and one of the top priorities for him and his staff should be to acquire as many capable wings as they can. 

Isaac Bonga and Troy Brown are intriguing prospects with a lot of upside if they can ever figure things out, but if the goal is to win games next season the Wizards will need some more established players at those spots. 

Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Wilson Chandler are some free-agent names that come to mind, while there's always the chance they could flip Davis Bertans for some young talent as well. 

You just can't win in the NBA today without versatile wings who can either handle the ball for you and make plays off the bounce or knock down spot-up threes. For now, we're forced to play "what if" for Kelly Oubre. 

A rough night for Davis Bertans

Davis Bertans has been so hot shooting the ball this season he seemed practically immune to nights like Friday. Bertans couldn't get much to go in Toronto and shot 3-15 from the field and 2-12 from three. 

Fortunately for the Wizards, Beal brought his A-game all night long, but it's hard not to see them win this game if they got a normal night out of their sharpshooting forward. 

Hopefully this doesn't leak into the next few games. Bertans' confidence in his shot never wanes, but if he starts to cool off and regress a bit from deep, the Wizards as a whole will struggle to score at the level they need to win. 

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Injury-riddled Raptors hold off injury-riddled Wizards' late comeback originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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