February 19, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Toronto Raptors small forward Rudy Gay (22) shoots the ball over Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Raptors won 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Washington Wizards (17-37) at Toronto Raptors (23-33)

Just last Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors waltzed into the nation’s capital and came away with a 96-88 win over the Washington Wizards. Now, the Wizards travel to Toronto to try and even the season series at one apiece.

On Tuesday, Demar Derozan and Rudy Gay had 24 points each, star Wizards point guard John Wall shot just 1 for 12 and served up 7 turnovers en route to a controlled Raptor victory. Since then, the Raptors have won one and dropped one, losing an ugly bout against the Memphis Grizzlies 88-82 and then topping the New York Knicks 100-98 the next day.

Rudy Gay was instrumental in both those outcomes. Against New York, he broke out for 17 points in the third quarter and carried the Raps to victory down the stretch, totalling 32 points on 11 of 23 shooting and 9 of 11 free throws. Against Memphis, however, he shot just 5 of 15 and committed 5 turnovers, several of them in key fourth quarter possessions.

The Wizards, in contrast, have won two straight games since Tuesday’s faceoff. They potted back-to-back wins against the Denver Nuggets and the Houston Rockets–playoff teams the two of them. The Wiz deployed a team effort to dismantle the Nuggets on Friday, with seven players scoring in double-figures, and squeaked past the Rockets on Sunday despite Houston’s 19 made three-pointers.

The Raptors, meanwhile, are just four games out of a playoff spot thanks to the Atlanta Hawks last night. Al Horford hit a go-ahead hook shot against a hapless Milwaukee Bucks defense that looked as if it wanted to lose the game. Monta Ellis’s running jumper in the closing seconds then hit back rim, sealing the deal. The Bucks have dropped three straight and eight of ten, and the 9th-place Philadelphia 76ers have lost four in a row; a playoff berth is ripe for the taking.

The question will continue to be: Which Gay comes to play?

Tags: 2013 NBA Playoffs Rudy Gay Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards

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