Welp. The Washington Wizards were headed quickly towards setting a new low on the season Friday night against the Toronto Raptors, but a late fourth-quarter run made the final 101-88 score much closer than the game felt. If you wanted to blame the Mavericks loss on a New Year's hangover, what's the excuse this time?
The Wizards started the game completely out of sync, committing three turnovers on their first five possessions and playing lax defense as the Raptors got out to a 14-5 lead. Toronto seemingly made every open shot it was gifted, and were it not for several fastbreak plays from John Wall, the Wizards' deficit would have been even worse than 26-17 after the first quarter.
Wall and Nene kind of brought Washington back by themselves in the second quarter. Nene scored six of the team's first eight points, and Wall started to find open teammates, finishing the first half with six assists.
Given how terribly the game started for the Wizards, they were lucky to enter halftime down only 48-45. Keeping the Raptors off the offensive glass was huge. Toronto shot 50 percent in the first half, but didn't grab a single offensive rebound. The Wizards, meanwhile, shot only 43 percent, but got five offensive rebounds and attempted four more shots than the Raps. Overall, Washington outrebounded Toronto 23-17 in the first half, with Trevor Booker alone accounting for nine boards. Oh, and an 18-0 advantage in fast break points didn't hurt, either.
But then the third quarter happened. Sloppy offense, terrible defense, and the Raptors rode an early 10-0 run to a 65-51 lead. One difference was Bradley Beal, who made a couple jumpers and had an incredible chase-down block on Lowry. Another was the Raptors pulling in seven offensive rebounds after getting zero in the first half. Yea, that was a big difference, too.
Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson absolutely torched the Wizards in the third quarter, the former nailing four wide-open three pointers as Beal repeatedly lost him while helping on lesser shooters, while the latter at one point scored 11 straight points. Wall didn't carry over his playmaking from the first half, going scoreless and without an assist in the quarter. The Wizards made their last field goal of the third with 7:34 to play, and the Raptors ended the quarter on a 9-1 run. The end result was a 36-16 margin, with the game all but over as the Raptors ballooned their lead to 84-61.
After Randy Wittman emptied his bench but curiously chose to leave Beal in the game, a 22-9 run closed the gap and made the final score such that it was only another embarrassing loss rather than Washington's worst defeat of the season.
Wall ended up having a terrible game, finishing 4-for-15 from the floor, many of those shots ill-advised while trying to get the team going. Beal also struggled from the field, shooting 6-for-16. Just an ugly, ugly loss. Here's some notes:
- Any Maryland fan worth their salt foams at the mouth at the mere mention of Terrence Ross, and cheers heartily at the sight of Greivis Vasquez.
- Amir Johnson is really good. Just plays extremely smart, efficient, winning basketball. Doesn't make bad plays.
- Kyle Lowery so strong.
- Wall's halfcourt game was way off in the first quarter, but he made a number of fastbreak plays to keep the Wizards within striking distance early.
- Man, Nene is nearly unstoppable on his patented drive-to-lane scoop layup, but he cannot jump. At all.
- Let it be known that I am a Patrick Patterson fan. I think he'd fit in nicely as a stretch-4 alongside Wall.
- Trevor Ariza's PUJIT to tie the game with about 40 seconds to play in the second quarter probably enraged a lot of us (myself included), but it was actually a smart play, trying to get a shot off so that the Wizards would get another possession to end the half, but Kyle Lowry ruined things by responding seconds later with a three of his own.
- Joey Crawford ejecting players. Nothing to see here.
- Here's a pro tip: Don't leave Ross open in the corner. The Wizards did this repeatedly in the third quarter, with predictable results.
- Holy crap. Who knew Martell could jump like that?
- Joey Crawford called an offensive foul on Booker for standing still because Vasquez ran into him really hard. The man is a professional troll.
- Many fans will likely remember Ross' third-quarter threes, but the Wizards were really done in by Toronto's jump-shooting big men. Amir Johnson and Patterson combined to score 35 points on 16-for-22 shooting.
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