Beal lifts Wizards to 7th consecutive home win

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

WASHINGTON -- Ninth place or bust might not seem like the most inspiring of rallying cries, but it's the Wizards' goal entering the season's final stretch.

Taking into consideration how Washington started, finishing as the best of the Eastern Conference's non-playoff teams would be quite the achievement.

Taking into consideration that the Toronto Raptors were in the playoff mix not so long ago, being tied with the surging Wizards is hardly appealing.

Buoyed by Bradley Beal's 3-point shooting barrage in his return from an ankle injury and John Wall's 11th double-double of the season, the Wizards continued their winning ways at home with a 109-92 victory over the Raptors on Sunday night.

Coming off the bench, Beal scored 24 points and matched his career high with six 3-pointers, four coming in the third quarter. Wall tallied 18 points and 10 assists with only one turnover for the Wizards, who won their seventh straight at home, their longest streak since winning 10 consecutive during the 2006-07 season.

Emeka Okafor added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards. Led by Beal, Washington (27-46) finished with a 62-25 bench scoring advantage.

The Wizards, who opened the season 4-28, are now tied with Toronto (27-46) for 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are three games behind the ninth-place Philadelphia 76ers. The eighth-place Milwaukee Bucks have a 5 1/2-game lead on Philadelphia.

"That's exactly what we're shooting for," Wall said of ninth place. "We're approaching it like we're a playoff team fighting for the seventh or eighth spot."

The Wizards have certainly played a playoff team since Wall returned from a knee injury on Jan. 12, posting a 22-18 record.

"We want to end on a good note, make a run for the ninth seed," said Beal, who finished 6-for-9 from beyond the arc. "As a team, we want to be able to go into next year with the right mindset, the right goals."

Coming off his career-best performance, Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half, and he grabbed 10 rebounds. The Raptors shot 39.5 percent from the field in defeat.

"When it's not our night, it's not our night," said Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 15 points finished 6-for-18 from the field. "We missed a lot of shots."

Kyle Lowry also scored 15 points for the Raptors, who have lost seven of eight games and lost hopes of a playoff push in the process.

"To be honest, we just got to be focused, man," DeRozan said. "We got to understand we only have so many games left. We have to put our mind to it and play hard every game. It's as simple as that. We can't look at it like we're not playing for something."

After missing the previous five games and 11 this month due to injuries including a sprained left ankle, Beal felt as if he had something to play for -- peace of mind.

"I couldn't sit out any longer," the 19-year-old said. "I couldn't take it."

Leading 60-50 at halftime, the Wizards increased the margin to 68-52 early in the third. After the Raptors trimmed their deficit to 70-62, Washington responded with five straight three-point possessions thanks to Beal's zone busting.

The rookie drained three straight 3-pointers before the crowd of 14,360. After Martell Webster's conventional three-point play on a dunk, the Wizards rookie guard sank his fourth shot from beyond the arc in the quarter.

Washington led 86-66 late in the third quarter, but much of that cushion evaporated following a 20-6 Toronto spurt. Amir Johnson's tip-in pulled the Raptors tight at 92-86, but they would get no closer. The Wizards jumped back in front by double figures at 102-90 on Beal's sixth 3-pointer with 3:46 remaining.

"They kept leaving me open, and my teammates kept finding me," said the University of Florida product. Beal also made six 3-pointers against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 16.

With reserves Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Ariza and Jan Vesely scoring a combined 30 points, the Wizards led 60-50 at halftime.

Vesely finished the night with nine points, matching his total for the previous 13 games. Seraphin had 11 of his 13 points in the opening half. Ariza ended with 10.

NOTES: Valanciunas set career highs with 13 rebounds and four blocks while scoring 18 points in Friday's win over the Detroit Pistons. ... Nene (sore right knee) missed his fourth straight game for the Wizards. ... The Wizards won 90-84 at Toronto on Feb. 25, less than a week after the Raptors triumphed 96-88 in Washington. The fourth and final meeting comes Wednesday in Toronto. ... The Raptors return home to host the Pistons on Monday. Washington wraps up its brief two-game homestand Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls.