In a thrilling finish, the Toronto Raptors managed an impressive 120-116 victory over the Washington Wizards on the road. It was Toronto’s second overtime game in as many nights and its fourth contest in five nights. Given the circumstances, you have to commend this team’s ability to overcome fatigue and pick up the W. Leading the way for the Dinos was Kyle Lowry, who chipped in 23 points on 8-15 shooting. DeMar DeRozan is rapidly returning to pre-injury form, and contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Aside from its backcourt, the Raps saw incredible defensive output from the tandem of Patrick Patterson and Amir Johnson. The big men came up clutch down the stretch, including a series of back-to-back blocks at the end of regulation which prevented a Washington lead. We should also acknowledge the fact that Toronto surrendered a 21 point lead and only pulled away in the final seconds of overtime. But it’s forgivable- the Wiz are a talented and energetic squad capable of deadly runs. I think I speak on behalf of all Raptor fans when I say: let’s take the win and move on. Here’s our post-game report card:
Aside from DeRozan and Lowry, Lou Williams put up 19 points on 50% shooting from the field. While his shot selection is still questionable at times (including the final shot in regulation), the reserve guard made key buckets in the later moments to keep his team alive. Additionally, Patterson recorded a solid 16 points to cap off a productive night on both ends of the floor. Overall, Toronto demonstrated smart ball distribution and offensive awareness. We saw a number of extra passes on the perimeter and good looks in the paint from the starting five. Oh, and the team somehow morphed into a collective Ray Allen in the first half on 11-18 shooting from beyond the arc. Seriously, it was unreal. The Raps came back to Earth in the second half (0-8 from three) but it was really their defensive woes which narrowed the gap.
John Wall is an defensive nightmare. The star guard’s ability to coast down the floor and drive with ease is bewildering at times. Paired with fellow standout Bradley Beal, the two combined for 54 points on 17-33 shooting. There was much chatter pre-game concerning the exciting matchups at all positions for this game, including Matt Devlin vs Wale (which did not come to fruition).
In all seriousness, Washington was equally fueled by its dynamic backcourt and tenacious frontcourt. The Raps did an outstanding job of stopping their opponent’s fast-paced offense through three quarters but basically fell apart in the last 12 minutes of regulation. In fact, a 16 point lead was erased as the visitors were outscored 31-15 in the fourth. This can be attributed to the iso dominance of Wall and a heartbreaking performance from eternal enemy Paul Pierce. The aging veteran drilled an inhuman three to tie the game up before overtime was declared. In summation, the problem of the night is a lack of help D on the drive and foul trouble. Jonas Valanciunas fouled out after playing just 17 minutes and his team committed nine personal fouls in the (supposed) final frame.
The Wizards won the battle of the boards 40-34. Key contributors for Toronto include DeRozan, Johnson and Patterson. Conversely, ex-Raptor/Kardashian (low-blow, I know) Kris Humphries pulled down a monstrous 14 rebounds in 30 minutes of action. The scrappy big man always has a chip on his shoulder when matched up against the Raps. The squad could definitely do a better job of securing boards, but it didn’t appear to be a glaring weakness in this particular contest.
Game Ball: Patrick Patterson
Patterson really showed out in his hometown and against his college teammate Wall. Ignoring the productive statline, 2Pat contributed his PATented three-point shooting which stretches the floor and creates space for offensive magic. The emerging big man was a source of hustle and leadership throughout the game and Raptor fans should be immensely grateful for his nightly presence.