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Toronto Raptors

Norman Powell shines yet again as Toronto Raptors handle business against Washington Wizards

Make that five of their last six for the Toronto Raptors, who are now one game under .500.

Following their win over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Raptors took down the Washington Wizards, beating them by a final score of 137-115.

Norman Powell continued his strong play lately with a game-high 28 points, as did Pascal Siakam with 26 points. Kyle Lowry chipped in with 21 points on 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range while Chris Boucher recorded a 17-point, 15-rebound double-double off the bench.

The Wizards were led by Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, who combined for 47 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

For more on the game, here are some thoughts at the buzzer...

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1. The injury report

The Raptors were without OG Anunoby (left calf strain) and Yuta Watanabe (left ankle sprain) against the Wizards. Anunoby was listed as questionable ahead of the game, whereas Watanabe was listed as doubtful.

According to Blake Murphy of The Athletic, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said postgame that he's unsure about Anunoby's availability for Thursday's contest against the Boston Celtics.

2. Norman Powell sets the tone - again

Since being inserted into the starting lineup on Jan. 22, Powell is averaging 9.1 points in the opening quarter of games.

Want to guess how many players in the league are averaging more? Six.

Stephen Curry is averaging the most with 10.7 points in the first quarter. Joel Embiid (10.0) isn't far behind him, followed by Damian Lillard (9.6), Jonas Valanciunas (9.5), Luka Doncic (9.4) and Kawhi Leonard (9.3). (Valanciunas has only played in two games during that span, by the way, so he doesn't really qualify).

Sure enough, Powell got off to a strong start in this one, scoring nine of Toronto's 40 points in the opening period. He also dished out a team-high three assists.

Along with Fred VanVleet, who led the Raptors in scoring with 10 points in the first quarter, Powell helped the Raptors jump out to an early double-digit lead, setting the tone for the rest of the game.

Powell went on to score 28 points in 31 minutes of play. He's scored 20 or more points in eight of his last nine games, all of which he's started in.

3. Raptor on former Raptor

Dunk No. 11 for Aron Baynes this season was a nice one.

4. A new season-high

The Raptors scored 74 points in the first half, marking a new season-high.

They got it done on 29-for-50 (58.0 percent) shooting from the field, 8-for-14 (53.3 percent) from 3-point range and 8-for-10 (80.0 percent) from the charity stripe.

That's ... not a lot of misses.

Some of it had to do with the Raptors out-executing the Wizards, but the Wizards aren't exactly known for their defence. This wasn't even the most points they've given up in the first half of a game this season. That honour goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, who hung 82 points in the first half of their win over the Wizards on Jan. 6, 2021.

5. Pascal Siakam's 3-point touch is back?

One of the more bizarre developments this season has been the disappearance of Siakam's 3-point shot.

Following a career year from beyond the arc, Siakam converted only 20.4 percent of his 3-point attempts in the month of January. He then got off to a slow start this month, missing six of his seven 3-point attempts against the Orlando Magic, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks to commence this road trip.

That's why it was encouraging to see Siakam go 5-for-8 from 3-point range in Toronto's win over the Memphis Grizzlies and 3-for-4 in Wednesday's win over the Wizards.

Not that you want to overreact to two games, but Siakam regaining his 3-point touch would be a big deal for both him and the Raptors.

6. Another double-double for Chris Boucher

After going for 29 points and 10 rebounds against the Hawks and 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Grizzlies, Boucher came up big off the bench once again with 17 points and 15 rebounds. That marks three straight double-doubles for him, extending the longest streak of his career.

Boucher now has seven double-doubles on the season. He entered this season with six career double-doubles.

Boucher came back down to earth following a scorching start to the season but he's bounced back nicely the last three games for the Raptors.

7. Toronto's offence is firing on all cylinders right now

In scoring 137 points against the Wizards, the Raptors have now scored at least 120 points in five straight games.

As TSN's Josh Lewenberg noted, that's tied for the longest streak in franchise history, set during the 2018-19 season.

Now, it helps that the Raptors haven't faced any defensive juggernauts lately - Washington, Brooklyn and Orlando have been three of the worst defensive teams in the league this season while Memphis and Atlanta have been slightly above league average - but it prepares them well for Thursday's matchup with the Celtics, as well as next week's back-to-back with the Milwaukee Bucks.

8. What's next

The Raptors are back in action on Thursday when they take on the Celtics. It's the last game of Toronto's road trip.

Following their matchup with the Celtics, the Raptors return to Tampa to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.

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