After riding on the high of a four-game winning streak, the Wizards find themselves, once again, two games under .500 and losing ground in the Eastern Conference after a 94-91 loss to the Raptors.
After trailing by 12 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Wizards managed to clip the lead down to just two with just under a minute left to go in the quarter. John Wall defended a DeMar DeRozan fadeaway jumper with textbook precision until he clipped DeRozan on the arm at the end of his shooting motion and put him at the free throw line.
The Wizards trailed by four, but Wall found Jared Dudley in the corner after the Wizards ran their trademark hammer set to flare him open as Wall made his way to the rim.
The Wizards found themselves in a situation parallel to the one they had in Washington last month. Except for this time they would need a stop instead of stopping the Raptors -- and they got it. DeRozan put up another fadeaway jump shot, and the ball was cleanly rebounded by Washington.
The Wizards ran a similar set to get Dudley open, but this time, he found himself above the break instead of in the corner. Wall found him; he released the ball cleanly, but it fell off the rim and into the Raptors hands. The Wizards would get another chance to tie after Kyle Lowry drained two free throws and increased the Raptors' lead to 94-91, but that would be all she wrote after Wall and Porter missed a plethora of opportunities from deep.
The Wizards couldn't overcome their rebounding woes, DeRozan's free throw shooting and the Raptors' ability to get to the line in this one. While their defense was up to par with what it was during their four-game winning streak, their offense couldn't quite shake off the Raptors throughout the night.
The team will have to pick up the pieces and move on as they face Orlando on Friday night. Hopefully, we see a better outing from them in that one. Here's what we've learned.
Rebounding is still an issue for the Wizards
The team played pretty well defensively tonight, but many of their solid defensive possessions were spoiled because of second chance point opportunities created by the Raptors -- specifically, Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo finished the game with 12 points on three shots, 12 rebounds, and five offensive rebounds.
Biyombo gets the nod for the official Bullets Forever #WizKiller of the night. Early on Biyombo grabbed rebound after rebound and drew loose ball fouls to give the Raptors extra possessions. In a game with such a tiny margin, you simply cannot afford to let that happen, and the Wizards did tonight. That along with 16 points allowed off of 10 turnovers kept them out of this one.
The fouling was....something else
Whether you agree with the calls or not, and there were some questionable calls, the Wizards fouled way too much tonight.
Some of that was from the loose ball fouls the Raptors were able to draw, but DeMar DeRozan managed to get to the line 15 times tonight. The Raptors scored 34 percent of their points tonight from the free throw line, and no team can win a game when the opposition is that effective from the free throw line.
Overall, the Raptors shot just 34 percent from the floor hitting just 28 of 82 shots. But they managed to go 32 of 39 from the free throw line to the Wizards 13 of 17. There's a lack of balance there, and some of that has to be on the Wizards. Every single call tonight was not a bad call.
Marcin Gortat and Garrett Temple, two starters, were playing in foul trouble all night. Temple eventually fouled out in the fourth quarter after being barreled over by Demarre Carroll and the Wizards were already thin at every position.
Playing with two essential guys in foul trouble like they were tonight led to more Kris Humphries minutes and more of Ramon Sessions as a wing -- not ideal situations. Overall, this is likely an anomaly. The Wizards won't continue to foul this much. But they can't play this way when they're already thin and are trying to get back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.