"I thought [Beal] had a really solid rookie year," Coach Randy Wittman said. "I thought from Day 1, learning what this league is about, learning what these players are about, learning the speed of the game from Day 1 to where we are today. He made improvements and there was steady growth. For a young kid like that in this league, sometimes you don't know. Sometimes, it takes a while to learn what you're capable of doing in this league and Bradley had great strides in his growth and learning how to play. That was the thing that I was most pleased with."
"We did not come out with any focus," Coach Randy Wittman said. "That is where this group has to, on the road, put a team away. All that work in the 24 minutes that you did is gone in three minutes. We stopped moving the ball. Everything was one pass. There was too much dribbling. I don't know why. There was no pace to the game. We had no movement, which was disappointing. To be up 11 at halftime and then go through the motions in those first three minutes let them back in it. We need that killer instinct, and we have not shown it."
The Wizards led the Raptors 50-39 at the half but shot 19.4 percent in the third quarter and fell apart in the fourth.
"It's just a bad night," [John] Wall said. "We couldn't get anything to fall. ... We didn't do a better job of spacing and making open shots."
The officials were horrible tonight, and I hate pulling the "referee card." The Raptors took 18 free throws in the third quarter, which obviously stole all of Washington's momentum. Jonas Valanciunas, who shot just 7 field goals, finished the game with 24 points. That's ridiculous. Washington's big men weren't allowed any room to play defense by tonight's officials.
Washington's shooting tonight was putrid. On nights like this when your shooters are off, it's helpful to have players who can slash or work well in isolation plays. Martell Webster, Washington's best shooter, was 1-8 from the floor, and the bench combined to shoot 7-25.
It's as if Jonas Valanciunas has officially become the anti-Andrea Bargnani. He's everything we've wanted Il Mago to be since he arrived in Toronto, and it's only his first year in the league. I hate bringing up his name, but it's absolutely true. Andrea is more of a perimeter oriented player, and that's not part of the way Jonas plays basketball, but how many times as fans have we demanded that Andrea start attacking the glass, create offense in the post, grab some rebounds and defend the paint? Jonas does all of those things.
"We've talked about it and there's an understanding with that," he said. "Again, you get criticized for not playing them (young players learning the game) and you get criticized for losing so you can't win. "That's why I don't listen to the white noise. I'm going to do what's best for this team and to continue to build because that's what we're doing. We could play Amir (Johnson) 48 (minutes) and DeMar (DeRozan) 48 and everybody would be upset because why are the rookies not playing?"
"He's getting the respect of the league (and) the respect of the officials," Casey pointed out after the game. "He's just not a big blob out there that is taking up space, this kid can play, so he's getting the respect of the officials. They kind of know his game now, they're getting to know him as a player, know what he can do and he's just not out there hacking. He knows how to play, he's got good hands and he's a talented young man."
"That's amazing," DeMar DeRozan said. "Somebody was getting calls. That's a good thing. That's just him playing hard and being aggressive. It's definitely big, especially for a rookie, especially with a double-double as well. That's going to go a long way."
"The physicality of the game doesn't bother him anymore," Casey said, "whereas before he would kind of disappear a little bit. Now he's huge at the end of a game. You can go to him. He can make free throws. He can pass the basketball but most of all he can defend without fouling. That's huge for him. That growth for him has been huge."
The variety in Valanciunas' offence and his aggressive style led to a career-high 24 points, keyed by 16-of-18 free throws. He worked with his back to the basket, facing up off the dribble, off the pick-and-roll and was effective shooting his mid-range. He also put in good work on the defensive glass (10 rebounds), leading directly to 6 free throws. The most important aspect of Jonas' job was also on display against the Wizards - protecting the paint. He was only credited with two blocks, but he had a big hand in holding Washington to 32.5% from the field.
He isn't always the most aesthetic looking player, but he gets the job done. According to Synergy Sports, the big man came into last night's game converting 49.4 percent of his shots in post up situations.
Obviously, context is important in this setting. He doesn't necessarily score that well against every opposing big man, but last night was one of those nights. Valanciunas owned Emeka Okafor and Nene. He had a few post ups as well as a couple of drives - always to his right! - that allowed him to score.
But JV's biggest contribution last night on offense was his toughness. Every time he was given an open shot in the paint, he pump faked himself (took him a few seconds to realize how open he was) and then used the landscape at his disposal to attack the basket. Routinely he was met with resistance, but he kept drawing whistles. His aggressive and physical play resulted in a 16-of-18 free throw shooting night.