Nov 22, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Rudy Gay (22) celebrates with guard DeMar DeRozan (10) after defeating the Washington Wizards at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Wizards 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Raptors 96 - Wizards 88...Hurray for weak opponents

The Toronto Raptors have yet to play their best basketball for all 48 minutes of a game this season. Friday night’s match against the Washington Wizards was another case in point. Toronto piled up 32 points in Q1, keyed by DeMar DeRozan’s 11. The Raps’ shooting slipped in Q2, yet they went into the dressing room with a 13-point lead, largely because the Wiz missed an astonishing number of “bunnies” (easy baskets). Then the third-quarter malaise which has bedeviled the Raps since I’ve been a fan (i.e., forever) kicked in, and the Raps were beaten by 17 points. Fortunately the home team regained the lead early in Q4 on a D.J. Augustin 3-ball (no, that’s not a typo), part of a 9-0 run, and never relinquished it.

Nov 22, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) passes the ball as Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (3) defends at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Wizards 96-88. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay had a miserable shooting game (it turns out he was suffering from some sort of respiratory ailment, so I’ll give him a mulligan) and turned over the ball several times in that dismal Q3. How bad was it? John Wall, Washington’s super young point guard, outscored the entire Raps team, 18-15, blowing by slower defenders for layups time and again. Rudy redeemed himself in Q4, scoring 11 of his 17 points, including some clutch free throws. He also gets serious credit for 4 blocked shots, a game high.

Amir Johnson re-emerged from the shadows, scoring 14 points with only one missed field goal, that a 3-ball he was short on. He was plus-22 for the game, by far the highest positive on either team. Jonas Valanciunas acquitted himself well against Washington’s big and tough pairing of Marcin Gortat and Nene. Our man enjoyed a double-double of  11 points and 13 boards, despite having his shot blocked twice by Gortat within a 3-second span. Terrence Ross reached double figures for the second straight game, chipping in 11. Kyle Lowry continued his recent run of solid play with 9 assists and 12 points. Kyle is much less likely to attempt to pass into a crowd this season, one reason why his turnovers are down.

The Wiz enjoyed a huge game from Wall, who missed only 6 shots on his way to 37 points. Bradley Beal, on the other hand, was off all night, making just 7 baskets on the same number of shots (21) as Wall.

The Raps started well, faltered badly, then found their footing and grabbed a win. There are worse results.

Note: our condolences go out to Dwight Buycks on the passing of his father.

Putbacks: Amir was called for 3 fouls in under a minute early in that putrid Q3….Al Harrington, who’s hurt the Raps in the past, never sniffed the floor….Landry Fields is either hurt again, or badly in coach Casey’s doghouse.

Boake is Senior 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.

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