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Raptors pick up a solid road win to keep rolling

He did a great job just catching and shooting, got some great screens – Jakob Poeltl levelled someone to get him an open look right in front of the Wizards bench in the second half – and was at his shot-hunting best.

That’s a skill good shooters develop, knowing which routes to take to find space, knowing just when to go to get the timing of catch-and-shoot right and Miles was bang-on all night.

“I got kind of frustrated with missing some looks I thought I should have made and I was kind of taking myself out of it by getting upset,” Miles told reporters after the game.

“One missed shot was turning into two in a row instead of being able to just have that short memory. Tonight I was just going to keep moving and keep doing everything I can because the ball finds energy.”

It was a big win, in fact, one that they can be rightfully proud of. Playing a team that was at home, rested, on a hot streak and one that had given them trouble already this season could have added up to disaster.

The slow start and big deficit was as much of a function of the Wizards shooting the lights out and the Raptors unable to make a shot and the way Toronto rebounded from it was impressive.

Of course, it means nothing if they don’t sweep the two coming home games against Charlotte on Sunday and Atlanta on Tuesday but this team hasn’t taken its foot off the gas too often this year and I don’t imagine they will now.


Keeping them in check

No question that Fred VanVleet had a tough shooting night, he was just two for nine from three-point range, but that cannot diminish his contribution to the win.

The way he defended Bradley Beal was a huge factor in the outcome and VanVleet’s tenacity and, as Dwane says, his “I don’t give a crap level” was off the charts.

It was a hard cover but he did it really well; Beal had 23 points but had to take 19 shots to get them and VanVleet did an excellent job limiting his shooting space all night.

Just too tentative

No surprise that Norm Powell got the start in place of OG Anunoby – it kept the second unit intact as Casey always does and it should have let him get a feel for the game.
The feeling was skittishness.

A point in the third quarter perfectly exemplified that: Powell got what was a shockingly wide open look at a three-pointer on the right side, caught the ball in rhythm, had his feet set and …

Passed to a more covered Serge Ibaka in the corner.

I can understand Norm being a little tentative and a bit rusty but he’s always been ready to answer the call when he came and the last two games he simply hasn’t.

Another scoreless outing with a rebound in Washington, 11 minutes of nothing in Orlando; those are simply not good enough games.

I still think they should run him out with the starters tomorrow if OG can’t go but someone’s got to get to him and make sure he just relaxes and plays.

A surprise appearance

Dovetailing with Powell’s struggles, there was Malcolm Miller out there on the court for six first-half minutes and he acquitted himself well.

I know there are people high up in the organization who are quite excited about the possibilities he brings for the future. And regular G League watchers tell me he’s been quite good more often than not with the 905ers.

But …

When the Raptors were inbounding the ball under the Washington basket about halfway through the second quarter, you could see Dwane gesticulating wilding to Miller to get in the far corner to set up the out-of-bounds play.

Not sure the message got through because the Raptors had to blow a timeout to get it right.

Not a big deal at all and if Miller plays like he did last night all the time, the faith in him so many have will be rewarded.


Even today, the Raptors remain in the top five in the league in free throw shooting at 79.8 per cent as a team – tied for fourth with the Memphis – but going 20-for-32 last night would have been disastrous had they lost.

Gathering 24 assists in the game leaves the Raptors with a 38-10 record this season when they have 20 or more. They eclipsed 20 only 34 times all last season.