Despite last year's playoff sweep, the Wizards still can't seem to figure out the Raptors in the regular season.
The first quarter was characterized by energetic, aggressive defense by the Wizards. Otto Porter and Garrett Temple were particularly impressive, with deflections, steals, and even an early block from Porter. The offense was cold, but they nonetheless raced out to a 26-18 lead, holding the Raptors to just 7-23 shooting.
Trouble for the Wizards started at the end of the first quarter when the starters began to sub out. The defense lost its bite while the offense continued to be uninspiring. The first half ended with the game tied 47-47. Both Porter and Temple took hard hits but stayed in the game. John Wall slipped and fell (for the second game in a row) though this time he recovered for a chase down block on Patrick Patterson.
The Wizards’ momentum continued to decline in the third quarter. Washington struggled to regain their first quarter defensive rhythm, and Toronto went on a commanding 22-6 run to break the game open. The Raptors held a 12 point lead at the end of the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the game got just close enough to be interesting, mostly due to the extremely aggressive play of Porter and Ramon Sessions. But DeMar DeRozan was on fire and the Raptors never looked nervous. Porter took another hard hit on a flagrant foul from Patterson, but again stayed in the game. DeRozan scored a new season-high 35 points (his previous season high was also against the Wizards). He also finished with eight boards. The Raptors won 97-88.
The Wizards let the Raptors live at the line
The Wizards turned the ball over 19 times, which you would think would be their undoing. But they also forced 22 turnovers on the Raptors. The Wizards also won the points in the paint battle, 40-36. But the free throw discrepancy was huge: The Wizards shot 15 (of which they made 14) while the Raptors shot 26 (and made 24). DeRozan personally took almost as many free throws as the entire Wizards squad (13).
John Wall puts on a "pre-December" performance
Wall’s incredible December, for which he won Eastern Conference Player of the Month, has been well chronicled. Unfortunately, nagging injuries and high usage appear to be taking their toll. Wall had his second straight uninspiring game. He had 21 points, but took 20 shots and had just 4 assists and 7 turnovers. Usually a master at manipulating defenses, Wall looked a step slow and out of sync with his teammates tonight.