RAPTORS 122, WIZARDS 118 QUOTES: “We won the game. That helps. It’s going to be a work in progress and I think guys will continue to get more comfortable every game. We are going to continue to have to have guys step up.” –KYLE LOWRY

(8-19) WASHINGTON WIZARDS, 118 VS. (20-8) TORONTO RAPTORS, 122 SCOTIABANK ARENA FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2019

TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES

NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)

On the return of Fred VanVleet … Yeah, I think he was a smidge, just, off a little bit. He got to the rim some, which you know, some quickness, which was good. Yeah, it’s definitely good to have him out there though for sure.

On tonight’s game … It was okay. Obviously I thought we came out with great energy, the ball was going in, (and) we were flying around really good. We had 25 deflections in the first half, which is a huge number, but that’s about where it stayed. I think the second half we were moving. We never really got into a rhythm on either end, defensively or offensively. We gave up 66 in the second half. Give them some credit – they made a bunch of shots and we probably waited a little long on the blitzing, but when we did blitz they made some shots and plays out of that too, so (we) hung on for the win. Any win is tough in this league, that’s for sure, especially when you’re missing half of your team.

On the bench … Those guys have had some great times … They played it about even when you look at the plus minus. It felt like to me we were trading buckets. That’s kind of what we were doing. I didn’t think they played as well defensively as they have in the past, and a lot of that was, I thought, that they committed a bunch of fouls. It was Chris (Boucher), Terence (Davis), Chris, Terence. It was just foul, foul, foul there for a while, so those are mistakes, but I’ve got to look at it. I think I said to the staff after the game, “We had those guys really flying around and playing awesome.” But I think it might have been in some of our other defences, you know, when we were out in L.A. and Portland we were playing a lot of the box-and-one, triangle-and-two, and maybe that frees them up just to kind of fly around. They will and they will play hard and they’ll make plays, and I just think they just got caught up. Washington was executing well and we didn’t quite get there, (but) again, I have to look at the tape before I say too much.

KYLE LOWRY (26 points, nine assists, four rebounds)

On working in a new starting five… We won the game. That helps. It’s going to be a work in progress and I think guys will continue to get more comfortable every game. We are going to continue to have to have guys step up.

Is there an urgency to get your game back on track? I’ll be all right. I’ll be ready to go. I’m going to do what I gotta do and help our team win games. Tonight was a good effort by everybody to kind of get themselves going and having Freddie back definitely helped a lot. So it’s one of those things where Serge (Ibaka), is getting in the lineup and then Malcom (Miller) getting a little more comfortable, TD’s (Terence Davis) got to get a little more comfortable, and Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson), Pat (McCaw). You know, we’ve gotta get guys more comfortable in their own skin and just going out there and hooping.

FRED VANVLEET (18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists)

How important was it to get back on the floor with recent injuries? It was very important. I was turning that corner anyway. For three of our top five, six guys to go out all in one game, it’s not very fortunate for our ball club, but (I) tried to get back out there with the guys and give us a better chance to win. I’d like to think that I increased our chances of winning tonight, regardless of how ugly it was. I just want to be out there with the guys.

What changed in the second half? It’s the ups and downs of the game. We kind of had a dry spell on offence and Bradley (Beal) got hot. They started smacking in some threes and they got a little bit of momentum and they got hot, so we have to do a better job. (We’ll) look at the tape and see how we can keep continuing to get better on defence, but just finding ways to win is the most important part.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS QUOTES

SCOTT BROOKS (HEAD COACH)

On the team’s fight tonight… That’s what we do. We fight, we claw, we don’t make any excuses but we can’t get down 40-23 in that first quarter. It always seems to be one quarter. Two nights ago it was the fourth quarter. Lots of times it’s the second quarter, tonight it was the first. We fought back and we clawed our way back in. We had a great look, not a good look – a great look by one of the best shooters on the planet to put us up three with three minutes to go and then it would have been really interesting. They come down with a guy (Patrick McCaw) that we’re somewhat comfortable taking a three and he makes it. That’s what it is, it comes down to a lot of the times making a shot. I’m proud of our guys. We competed and gave ourselves a chance to win the game. That’s what we have to do and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.

On the play of Admiral Schofield… He’s hungry and you win and you get better by being hungry, and he’s hungry. He wants to get out there. He loves his opportunities; he gets down on the court anywhere, whether it’s with the Go-Go or with us he wants to get better and he’s challenged himself to compete every minute and I love that about him. He’s undersized, he’s playing the five and I think he’s maybe 6’5 but he’s competing. He’s giving himself a chance. It doesn’t matter how big you are, it’s how much are you willing to lay out on the line every night. That’s what it’s about. You can be a smaller player at your position and have a long career if you do that, and that’s why he’s going to have a long career.

BRADLEY BEAL (37 points, six assists, seven rebounds)

What ultimately decided the game tonight? I felt like we should have won. We had enough flow and juice to win. I think down the stretch we kind of got away from ourselves, we weren’t defending. They made some tough shots down the stretch too, that Pat McCaw three hurt, a couple of big plays Kyle (Lowry) made down the stretch too and we were fouling a lot. So, I think the fouls took us out of the game.

When you were down 18, did you feel you had enough to come back? Yeah, because I knew I wasn’t being aggressive as I should have been. I just came out in the third and just wanted to do that, set the tone and get us going, and see what we could get. Sure enough we were back in the game.

On the play of Schofield… I love him. He competes the hardest on this team. He doesn’t care about getting the ball, he doesn’t care about stats or nothing like that. He goes out and hits people. That’s what he does, he goes out and hit people, he’s physical and he makes an impact in the game. He made some big threes tonight too. I just tell him all the time to stay ready, he’s taking advantage of his opportunity and coach is going to continue to play him because he plays his ass off. I love him. We all love him. Just let him continue to get better, stay humble and continue to work.

ISH SMITH (26 points)

Can you describe the type offensive rhythm you were in tonight? To be honest with you, I missed some of the easy ones yesterday (Wednesday), that I kind of get a little frustrated when I miss some easy ones that I usually make, and so tonight I’m thankful, thank God, we put in the work, me and Corey (Gaines) and the coaching staff put in the work and make shots. Winning and losing, there’s no moral victories. This is something you think about when you’re 40 years old and in your rocking chair with your wife and your kids, right now it’s turn the page and try to figure what we can do and how we can get better moving forward with Philly. That’s a really good team, we’re playing the defending champions and I thought we fought, played hard. Again, it’s no moral victories but we did a great job. I thought we competed, we played hard and just came up short.

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