The Toronto Raptors, showing their infuriating propensity to play down to their opponents, threw away a serious opportunity to move closer to a precious playoff spot. The Raptors, apart from DeMar DeRozan’s fine effort, shot the ball poorly, suffered through a dreadful night from Rudy Gay, and lost to the Washington Wizards. The woeful Wiz entered the game with a 4-22 record away from the American capital.
At no point in this game did the Raps appear to be themselves. Andrea Bargnani, given a ton of minutes by coach Dwane Casey in order to somehow jump-start the shattered Italian’s confidence, had a lot of open looks but was “short-arming” his shots. That means Andrea is rattled, perhaps beyond repair. While an 8-point night is not atrocious, he should have scored twice that. Rudy was missing layups, mid-range jumpers, 3-pointers…everything. Our team’s new leader produced one basket on 11 shots. He did lead the team in one category – turnovers, with five. Kyle Lowry hit two 3-pointers in the last minute, but had one in the previous 47. That shot tied the score at 49 early in the third quarter, but the Wiz rolled to the next 7 points, and the Raps were fated never to catch up again. Kyle recorded 3 sad assists, against 2 turnovers. Of course, if his mates can’t make shots, he won’t get assists, so the bad numbers are not entirely his fault. DeMar hit some very tough fadeaway jump shots, took 9 free throws by fearlessly driving to the basket, and avoided the turnover malaise which afflicted his mates. He was the only Rap who brought his A-game.
The Raps defense was more than respectable against a Wiz team which struggles to score. The Raps should have been buried following a first half in which they managed 32 points, but Washington could only scramble 40.
Washington, other than dandy rookie Bradley Beal, wasn’t good, but good enough. They also were the beneficiary of the requisite refereeing blunder, when Alan Anderson was charged with a foul for tripping Wizard Garrett Temple, even though the replay showed clearly Temple tripped over his own feet. While the Raps would have had to score 5 points in 7 seconds to force overtime, some hope is better than none, particularly since the ball was rolling out of bounds when Temple was (not) fouled.
The Raps are off to Cleveland, no doubt in a foul mood.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.