The Washington Wizards (14-16) came into Friday night's game looking for that same kind of consistency and maybe even a big win over a division leader: enter the Raptors and a three game home stretch at VZW Center. But with a missed opportunity, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the first game of the home stand, and coming out flat against the Raptors, instead of a defibrillating run up the Eastern Conference standings with all the chest pounding-exuberance fans (and Vince Carter) have come to enjoy, the performance on Friday night tapered all optimism that the Wizards had or were about to turn a corner. Instead they dropped their second game in a row since being .500, losing to the Raptors 101-88.
"(I was) shocked probably more than surprised," said Wizards head Coach Randy Wittman of the loss. "Being a game where they are a half-game ahead of you in the standings, being a home game, “shocked” would be a better word, very disappointing. And we can’t play that way."
The Wizards came out carelessly, committing three early turnovers on bad passes and bad plays. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry (19 points and 11 assists) and DeMar Derozan (20 points and five assists) either scored or assisted on all of Toronto's buckets as the Raptors doubled up the Wizards 18-9 midway through the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter, the Wizards would have committed five of its 17 turnovers for the game. Wizards guard John Wall (11 points and six assists) brought the disjointed Wizards a little closer at 24-17 with his second steal and a dunk with two minutes remaining in the first.
"Not having a sense of urgency from the start of the game," Wall explained after the loss. "They got a big lead early."
Washington rallied with an 8-3 run to open the second quarter to get within four. Toronto made its run to push the lead back up to eight with an Amir Johnson, 17 points, jump shot to make the score 39-30 at the 5:30 mark. The Wizards would fight all the way back to tie the game at 45-45 on a Trevor Ariza 3-pointer with: 40 remaining before Lowry's (4-4 3-pointers) 3-point hit ten seconds later gave Toronto the lead 48-45 going into half.
The Raptors blitzed Washington with a 14-4 run to open the third. After center Marcin Gortat's fourth turnover of the game, Bradley Beal, 12 points, raced down court to sky for a late block on the fast-breaking Lowry. Toronto secured the rebound but missed the three attempt. After Gortat 10 points, rebounded the missed shot, Wall carelessly lost the ball again setting up Terrance Ross for his second of back-to-back 3's and Lowry's tenth assist of the night. Toronto's lead ballooned to 23 by the end of the third as Washington played sloppily throughout, allowing Toronto to shoot 50% for the game. Conversely, Toronto made it extremely tough on Wizards guards Bradley Beal and Wall who combined for 23 points on 10-of-31 shooting prompting Coach Wittman to call them out post-game.
Former Terrapin Greivis Vasquez now with the Raptors drives the lane. Toronto defeated Washington 108-88 at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 3, 2014. Robert Eubanks/DC Sports Box
"We don’t have one guy who can carry this team," said Wittman. "You can’t dictate the game yourself and make it play out the way you are. You’ve got to let the game dictate that and then be willing to do that.
"We made Bradley Beal take tough shots, and we blitzed him all night, and made John take contested shots," said Lowry. "That is all we can do with those guys, and I think everyone tonight just played a great team game.”
"I guess what (Wittman) was talking about was body language and attitude, more so than guys not passing the ball," said Beal. "I mean you can sense it here and there. He’s right, that’s definitely something we have to stay away from and hopefully moving forward we can eliminate that."
Eliminate it soon they must. Sunday, Washington will welcome yet another giant killer, the (22-13) Golden state Warriors who are coming off back-to-back wins against the NBA Champion Miami Heat and third place Atlanta Hawks. Game time is 6pm.
Trevor Ariza was ejected in the third quarter
Trevor Booker finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and two assists. This marks his fifth double digit rebounding game (all were 12-or-more) this season. Booker had four games of 10+ rebounds during the entire 2012-13 season.
Bradley Beal recorded 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists. This marks the fourth time this season Beal has tallied at least 10 points, five rebounds, and five assists in a game.
Nene tallied 15 points and four rebounds tonight. This marks the seventh time this season Nene has score 15-or-more points in a game and the fifth time he has come off the bench to score 10-or-more points.
Marcin Gortat finished with 10 points and five rebounds tonight. This marks his 22nd game scoring in double digits this season.
The Wizards finished +9 on the glass tonight, outrebounding the Raptors 42-33. Coming into tonight, the Wizards were 9-5 when outrebounding their opponent.
The Wizards bench totaled 41 points tonight. This marks the second-highest total for bench points this season. The Wizards bench scored a season-high 45 points at BKN on 12/18.