The Toronto Raptors shook off their recent funk, and a poor shooting first half, to register a much-needed victory over the Washington Wizards. The Wiz had no magic following intermission, and the Raps outscored them 29-12 in the critical third quarter, turning an 11-point deficit into a 6-point advantage. Though Washington clawed back several times in Q4, the Raptors weathered the storm for once, much to the relief of their apprehensive fans at the Air Canada Centre.
Washington managed just 7 field goals in the second half. The Raps hardly resembled an offensive juggernaut themselves, except for huge contributions from DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas. JV scored only four baskets, largely because the Wizards kept fouling our giant rookie centre. When Shaquille O’Neal was terrorizing the NBA in the ‘90s, “Hack-a-Shaq” became the popular alternative to being dunked upon. Shaq was a dismal free-throw shooter, so the technique worked, but JV showed last night that defenses will need to find something else to contain our emerging star. Jonas drained no fewer than 16 FTs on 18 tries, to finish with a career-high 24 points.
DeMar got his 25 points in a more conventional manner, by burying jump shots from all over the court, and taking the ball to the hoop fearlessly. Rudy Gay, after showing his Dr. Jekyll side against Detroit with 34 points, rolled out Mr. Hyde. Our highest-paid player managed 6 points, outscored by, among others, Quincy Acy, who had 8. Kyle Lowry hit the Raps’ only 3-ball, ended with 9 points and a most welcome 13 assists against 2 turnovers.
Toronto won the rebounding battle, which was surprising considering the Wizards played their big lineup featuring Nene and Emeka Okafor. The Raps pulled down a sad 4 offensive boards, but compensated by holding the Wiz to “one & done” all night. Led by JV’s 10, the Raps grabbed 40 defensive rebounds.
The Wizards’ superstar-to-be guard, John Wall, needed 17 shots, and 10 free throws to count 20 points. With his team shooting 32.5%, he can’t be faulted for a mere 5 assists.
The Raps head out on the road, with a visit to Minnesota on Friday, followed by games at Milwaukee and Chicago.
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.