John Wall’s 20-point games streak came to an end, Trevor Ariza was ejected long before the third quarter ended and the Washington Wizards showed few signs of life in what amounted to a 101-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors at the Verizon Center Friday night.
The Wizards entered the contest just a half-game behind Toronto in the standings, but the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry did their part to widen the margin. The two combined for 39 points and 16 of the Raptors’ 29 assists.
The Wizards started off on the wrong foot right from the get-go. Just three and a half minutes into action, the team had already fallen behind 14-5 thanks to Lowry and DeRozan’s 12 early points for Toronto.
What ground the Wizards regained coming out of an early timeout was lost by the end of the quarter as they trailed 26-17.
Nene and Kevin Seraphin helped rejuvenate the squad – if only just a little – with early baskets in the second quarter. Seraphin’s dunk and Nene’s 15-footer helped pulled the Wizards within four points of catching the Raptors. Unfortunately for Washington, the team went another two and a half minutes without scoring and, in that timeframe, Toronto crept back to a 10-point lead.
Before halftime, Wall and Martell Webster breathed life back in the Wizards and the teams headed to the locker rooms with just three points between them.
But, in the third quarter, the Raptors went on to outscore the Wizards 36-16. In case there was any question of the Wizards’ frustrations, Ariza made them apparent by earning himself an ejection for arguing a technical foul call.
Despite the fact that five Wizards ended the night with double-digit points, Washington never managed to slow the Raptors. Yet, the Wizards entered the final quarter down 84-61 with little hope of recovering ground.
“Anybody can get hot and start scoring at any time on this team,” John Wall said after the game. “We’re a team where we’re better when there’s five to six guys in double figures and you might have a different leading scorer every night and we know that’s the way we need to play and there’s nothing wrong with that. We know guys can make big shots and make big plays, but we don’t have one guy that we can put our back on and say, ‘Do that for a whole game.’”
At last, Washington outscored the Raptors 27-17 in the final 12 minutes of play, but their efforts proved far too little too late.
With the 101-88 loss, the Wizards are now just 7-7 at home.
“[I was] shocked probably more than surprised,” said head coach Randy Wittman after the game. “Being a game where they are a half-game ahead of you in the standings, being a home game, ‘shocked’ would be a better word. [It was] very disappointing and we can’t play that way. We’ve proven over the last couple of years you can’t play that way. And, we’re getting concerned with, ‘Why am I coming out? How many minutes am I getting? How many shots am I getting?’ rather than, ‘What is the team doing?’ and we didn’t do that tonight and that is disappointing because we’re not good enough to do it that way. For us to come out and start the game, and start the fourth quarter like that is disappointing. I don’t know how else to put it. We have to come back together. It is not about ‘me’ it’s about ‘us’ and it has to be focused on us and it was focused on individuals rather than the team tonight.”