Fred VanVleet returns from injury, helps lead Raptors over Wizards 122-118

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TORONTO — Guard Fred VanVleet returned to help an ailing Raptors roster with a solid 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, pushing Toronto to a 122-118 win against the Washington Wizards on Friday.

The Raptors won their fourth in a row despite being without leading scorer Pascal Siakam (stretched groin), Marc Gasol (left hamstring strain) and Norm Powell (partially separated left shoulder), each listed as out indefinitely after Toronto’s 112-99 win in Detroit on Wednesday.

VanVleet’s return was a welcome addition for the Raptors. He missed five games with a knee injury but managed to play 34 minutes.

Like they did in Detroit, Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry continued their scoring ways. Lowry followed up his triple-double (20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) with 26 points. Ibaka, who poured in 25 points on Wednesday, checked in with 23 against the Wizards while OG Anunoby added 18.

Ibaka also snatched 10 rebounds and wowed the holiday-spirited Scotiabank Arena crowd with two monster blocks in the first half.

Bradley Beal led Washington with a game-high 37 points.

The Raptors jumped out to an early 11-5 advantage, led 40-23 after the first quarter, and were up 68-52 at the half.

The Wizards closed to within 96-85 after three quarters and roared back to tie the game 107-107 with under five minutes to play after Beal, Admiral Schofield and Ish Smith each hit three-point jumpers.

But then Raptors forward Patrick McCaw and Lowry hit late three-pointers to put Toronto ahead 116-110 and provide some breathing room.

Toronto head coach Nick Nurse decided to go with a small lineup in the absence of his key players. VanVleet started at point guard, and McCaw replaced Siakam.

Nurse’s side received substantial contributions from other areas of his roster. Among his eight points, Terence Davis hit two three-pointers at the end of the first quarter.

The Wizards lost for the ninth time in 11 outings. Smith finished with 26 points.

Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press