Toronto 96, Washington 88, Game 12 of 82

  • Ralph Thompson Jr
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Friday night in Toronto, the Wizards went on a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Things started out fast, but relatively level. Then the ride slowed somewhat. That section was followed by a giddy rush of a climb out. Unfortunately, the ride finished low and slow for the Wizards.

John Wall had some highs and lows as well, befitting the team’s result. He scored a season-high 37, showing everything from a) long-range jumpers to b) slick moves for mid-range shots to c) explosive forays to the rim. However, he only tallied one assist in the first three quarters, finishing with a season-low 2 assists.

The game opened with both teams showing off end-to-end athleticism normally attributed to youth. Two of the Raptors’ leading lights, DeMar DeRozan (11 points in the quarter) and Amir Johnson (10), came out scoring nearly at will. Toronto led at the end of the first, 32-27. As effective as the Wizards were scoring, they had all sorts of trouble protecting the lane. Toronto’s game plan (attack Washington in the post) worked well. The Raptors scored 22 points in the paint in the first period. Washington’s Marcin Gortat and Wall were assessed two personal fouls each, putting them on the bench for the latter part of the first quarter and the start of the second.

The second quarter started with Toronto showing even more energy. Toronto reserve Tyler Hansbrough hit two layups and a pair of free throws in the first ninety seconds of the period. Washington, meanwhile, missed its’ first nine field goal attempts. Toronto missing ten of its’ next eleven kept Washington relatively close. Toronto’s offense seemed to either be DeRozan or Rudy Gay freelancing, or a three-man weave out top leading to DeRozan or Gay freelancing. It seemed to work, since Toronto led 51-38 at the half. Gay shot 2/10 from the field in the half. DeRozan’s 15 and Johnson’s 12 led the Raptors. No Wizard scored in double figures; Martell Webster led the team with nine. In the paint, Toronto held a 30-12 scoring advantage at halftime. Here’s a statistical oddity: Toronto’s 51% from the field was a part of its’ 51 points, and Washington’s 38% from the field was part of its’ 38 points. I wonder how many times that happens?

The third quarter saw Washington come out with a burst of energy and efficiency. Washington won the quarter 32-15, with Wall scoring 18 of the 32. He had a height and quickness advantage over his counterpart Kyle Lowry, and Wall pressed that advantage by continually getting to the basket to convert layups. His work spurred the Wizards’ largest lead of the night, 70-64 with 54 seconds left in the quarter. That turned out to be the high point for the Wizards.

Sensing his team had the momentum, Washington coach Randy Wittman started the fourth quarter with Nene and four substitutes on the floor. Possibly the coach wanted to get his other starters rest before crunch time, but it didn’t work out. Toronto attacked Washington’s post defenders, especially Kevin Seraphin and Gortat. The score progressed from Washington 70, Toronto 66 at the start of the fourth to Toronto 77, Washington 73 with 8:12 left in the game. Dunks by Toronto’s Johnson, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valancuinas (followed by a Gay layup), highlighted Toronto’s comeback and Washington’s weakness on defense. Despite Gay’s slow start, he scored nine points in the last two and a half

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minutes to seal the Raptors’ victory.

Washington shot 41.9% from the floor, and tallied 39 rebounds, 17 assists on 36 baskets, 6 steals, 14 turnovers and 4 blocked shots. Other than Wall’s season-best scoring night, Bradley Beal (17 points) and Nene (10 points) were the only other Wizards in double figures.

Toronto shot 47.4% from the floor, and totaled 46 rebounds, 22 assists on 37 baskets, 5 steals, 14 turnovers and 8 blocked shots. Toronto had all five starters and reserve Ross in double figures. DeRozan and Gay finished with 17 points each, and Johnson totaled 14. The Raptors showed a more-balanced attack all night, and used the support from the home crowd to hold on during the third quarter Washington run.

Next on the schedule are home games against New York (Saturday night) and the Los Angeles Lakers (Tuesday, 26 November). Those are two storied franchises who are each having a difficult time this season. Washington is 4-8; they need wins in both games. With Trevor Ariza (right hamstring injury) and Al Harrington (staph infection in right knee) both out with injury, the team is depleted and scuffling. They need the type of team balance Toronto showed on Friday night.



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