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Raptors Vs. Wizards Recap: Washington Holds On For 111-108 Victory

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A win's a win. That's the mantra the Washington Wizards have to accept after nearly blowing an 18-point lead against the Toronto Raptors in a wild game in front of very few people at the Verizon Center. If winning close games yields character, the Wizards showed some character, even against an undermanned Raptors team missing leading scorer Andrea Bargnani. The Wizards stepped up defensively in overtime on Jerryd Bayless, who killed them in the fourth quarter, and snuck away with a 111-108 win.

There will be plenty of time to wonder how, exactly, the Wizards nearly let an inferior team sneak away with a win on their home floor. That's for another time, though. For now, given the state of the team, it's nice to see John Wall star, Trevor Booker play to the best of his abilities and Nick Young knock down some shots. The Wizards can't complain about wins, and neither can we.

More notes below the jump.

  • Chris Singleton set a nice tone early with his defense on DeMar DeRozan, forcing a miss on Toronto's first possession and blocking his shot on the baseline on the Raptors' next possession. DeRozan is struggling, but it was still a good performance by Singleton, who I'm sure would love to earn his way back into the starting lineup.
  • If I'm coaching Nick Young, and I'm letting him dribble around as much as the Wizards appear to be in their half-court offense, I tell him that he better get to the rim. Otherwise, no more aimless dribbling.
  • Really liked what I saw from Trevor Booker setting screens early on. Young has to do a better job of using them, though. On his missed leaner in the lane, he came off the pick a little too casually, which meant he needed to dribble again before exploding towards the rim. That was enough time for Aaron Gray to come over to provide help to stop Young's drive.
  • JaVale McGee, please box out Aaron Gray. Also, when you get switched onto James Johnson on one block, try getting between him and the basket instead of playing behind him.
  • Haven't really seen Young show off his quick spin to the middle in the post very much. He needs to do more of that to set up the fadeaway counter move.
  • Really solid stuff from John Wall early. He got most of his points in transition, but for those wishing he wouldn't force it in half-court sets, he didn't. Jerryd Bayless' air-balled three-pointer midway through the quarter also displayed Wall's superior length closing out on shooters. That's where he can be a potentially devastating defensive force if he learns timing and angles well.
  • Lots of good screens set by the Wizards' big men. Wall, Young and Crawford got credit for the points, but guys like Booker and Kevin Seraphin did a really nice job freeing them for open shots on pick and rolls.
  • Pretty nice stint for Maurice Evans, all things considering. Hard to deny that the Wizards seemed to run their sets better with him in the game. Not sure that's a coincidence.
  • It's a fact of the NBA today that centers have to be the most intelligent defensive players on the floor. They're the quarterback of the defense, if you will. McGee may have all the natural ability in the world, but he's Ryan Leaf when it comes to having the proper defensive instincts. That negates so much of his athletic ability, it's crazy.
  • The Wizards started pressing, and I'm not really sure it helped them. The Raptors were able to get a number of easy buckets that helped them get back into the game. This was one of those games where just pressuring all 94 feet and not trying to double-team would have probably been wiser.
  • What a fantastic bounce pass by Wall in transition to Young on the dunk. Put it right on the money, perfect pace and everything.
  • Young hit a number of tough shots in that first half, which I think explains his high point total. I also think his screeners did a nice job freeing him. That's what you get with Young, though. Some days, he just has it going.
  • I think it's safe to say that McGee was kind of out of it tonight.
  • The beginning of the third quarter is what can happen when the offense doesn't change, but Young's shot stops falling.
  • The Raptors' offense suffers from the same ailment that plagues the Wizards: a lack of shooters. With Andrea Bargnani injured, only one starter can hit a long-range shot capably. That explains a lot of why the Wizards were able to help and recover so well in the third quarter even as they were clearly out of sync. Credit to the Wizards, obviously, but just pointing out that the Raptors' offense was pretty dreadful in the third quarter.
  • Wall hit his jumpers tonight, and he has to keep doing that. I'd like to see him make a different move than his left-to-right crossover for a jumper that he always uses, but the jumper part is a good sign at least.
  • Booker had 14 points midway through the third quarter, and I felt like I barely noticed him. That's a credit to his ability to manufacture points off screens, on the offensive glass and in transition. It's how he has to play.
  • Anthony Carter is the kind of guy I wish the Wizards had to dust off on their bench. He came in for a few minutes, settled the Raptors' offense down and irritated Wall enough to throw him off his game for a couple possessions. Better Carter than Roger Mason, whose only real value is a shooter who can't shoot.
  • Jan Vesely did a nice job disrupting the Raptors' offense early in the fourth quarter. He was called for two reputation fouls he didn't deserve, but you can see where he provides value. He won't get box-score credit for the deflection that caused Toronto's shot-clock violation or the strip on Ed Davis that eventually led to the Raptors getting the ball back out of bounds, but those are the kind of plays he makes.
  • Problem is, Vesely gives just as much back on offense because he has nowhere to go on that end and fumbles passes in scoring position.
  • Wizards caught a huge break leaving Bayless wide open in the corner off an inbounds pass with eight minutes left. How does that happen?
  • Wall got away with some out-of-control dashes to the basket late. Bayless defended him really well in the open floor, really going right at him. Bayless is kind of like Jordan Crawford -- a hyper-competitive small guard who isn't quite as good as he thinks, but will rise to the challenge when he feels challenged.
  • The Wizards did a really bad job defending the three-point line in the fourth quarter. I don't even really think it was because of poor defense on dribble penetration. I just think the Wizards lost concentration.
  • Wall and Seraphin seemed to have little idea how to run the pick and roll. Understandably, the play has to be run right, but at a certain point, they need to just run it even if it's not perfect. There's not enough time in an offensive set to get the perfect angle for everything.
  • Young going underneath a Bayless ball screen was such a bad decision. Wittman chewed him out for it, and rightfully so. ALso, having him run off two ball screens is useless because he doesn't spot the open man fast enough. The Raptors sent three guys to trap him and Young couldn't make them pay. They knew he couldn't.
  • Nice defensive sequence from McGee right at the two-minute mark. First, he cut off Bayless' penetration to the middle. Then, when Bayless tried to go left and got around Crawford, McGee met him at the rim and prevented him from shooting. Then, out of the timeout, he trapped Bayless deep in the corner and forced the air ball. If only it wasn't for ...
  • ... Linas Kleiza, Wizards killer.
  • Scary-looking pass by Wall to Booker, but Booker brought it down nicely and went hard to the rim. Liked the play design having Young curling off a down screen as the pick and roll was being set. Toronto defended it well, but that action distracted the Raptors just enough to open up the pass to Booker and the open lane.
  • Kleiza's go-ahead three was on Booker. He needed to cut off Bayless' penetration and he didn't.
  • As long as you're going to call the questionable call on Crawford on Bayless at one end, you might as well give Wall the call on the Wizards' end. Crawford didn't foul Bayless, and Wall probably committed an offensive foul himself. It evened out on the scoreboard at least.
  • Booker got beat yet again on the Bayless drive to the basket on the game-tying bucket. Exact same way he was beat before. Not sure how that happens. He knows Bayless is going to make a hard dash to the rim and he still jumped out way too high to try to stop the Raptors' screen and roll.
  • Given what happened on the previous possessions, I'm really not sure why Wittman ran the final play for Nick Young. I would have used Young as a decoy and told Wall to attack off the dribble. In any event, credit James Johnson for switching out on Young (the Raptors switched all screens) and getting the job done.
  • McGee has to secure the rebound after such a great Wizards defensive possession holding down Bayless and Kleiza. That's demoralizing.
  • Wall blocking Johnson twice is pretty incredible. Booker doing the same was great as well. Talk about winning plays -- those were winning plays. For all of Wall's struggles, he makes winning plays. Just a matter of making sure he doesn't also make losing plays.
  • McGee and Seraphin both did a nice job cutting off Bayless' penetration, and Booker did a nice job rotating from the weakside to force Kleiza's air ball. Just got to rebound. The guards have to be the ones to help out there with all the big men all over the place due to defensive rotations. Sure, you'd like McGee to rotate back and box out Johnson, but it's not always easy to do when he's also chasing Bayless out to prevent him from getting a good shot off. He has to be better, but you can understand why it's hard for him to rush back to the rim.
  • The play the Wizards ran with 55 seconds left was a good one. They started two bigs at the top. Wall dribbled to his right off a screen by one (Seraphin), while the other (Booker) set a down screen for Young. The timing was perfect, the screens were good and the delivery was perfect. Young just missed it. Sometimes, it's simply a make or miss league.
  • Wizards caught a break late. The Raptors decided to play it out with a three-second differential instead of fouling, which was probably a questionable decision. Then, the Raptors didn't rebound off the missed free-throw, which allowed the Wizards to ultimately hang on after a missed Raptors three at the buzzer.