The Toronto Raptors knocked off the Washington Wizards 96-88 Tuesday night to earn their first win in the Verizon Center since 2009.
It was a bit of a bizarre start to the second-half of the season in the Verizon Center with the scoreboard out and no horn working in the building. The sound of an air horn and the announcement of the time left on the game clock, shot clock and the score greeted the fans throughout all four quarters. Despite the change in in-game production quality, the actual product on the court seemed unchanged.
“Listen, it’s going to be hard for us, the way our team’s made up to win games that way,” Head Coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “We tried to keep making a push, but offensively, you’re right, we just never got into a flow, rhythm all night long. And we paid for it.”
Bradley Beal started for the first time since the end of January and looked sharp early hitting two of his three three-point shots in the first quarter. While Beal and Emeka Okafor shot lights out to help the Wizards stay in the game, turnovers again cost them big early on. Washington turned the ball over eight times, leading to 12 Toronto points in the first quarter. It allowed the Raptors to build a 27-19 lead.
To add to the ambiance of the game, the first and second quarters featured Raptors players counting down the final seconds of the quarter so DeMar Derozen could sink a basket with less than a second left.
Washington cut down on the turnovers in the second quarter, but could not contain the Raptors’ offense. Even though they pulled close to the lead, newest Raptor Rudy Gay started to find a rhythm in the second after going 1-4 from the floor in the first. He finished with 14 points for the quarter and knocked down two three balls. Meanwhile Beal was held to just one field goal in the quarter, a two pointers, as the Wizards headed into the half down 55-46.
The third quarter sort of plugged along quietly with few notable performances, outside of Beal and DeRozan. Toronto’s DeRozan put up nine more points and Beal added 11 to his stat line. All of that said, John Wall continued to look rough, scoring only two points in the quarter and only shot seven-percent on the night.
“I’ll burn it and look forward to the next one, it was the first game back off of break.” Wall said after the game about his performance.
All the while, Jordan Crawford remained on the bench, a place he has been familiar with for the last few games. Perhaps the most notable moment of the quarter was when the fans began to chant for the one time leading scorer for Washington.
Despite closing the gap to start the fourth, pulling within four at one point, Washington could not muster up the offense needed to complete the comeback. A 14-7 run over a span of five minutes allowed the Raptors to restore their double-digit lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Gay and DeRozan led the Raptors with 24 points each and Beal lead all scorers with 25.
It is the second straight loss for the Wizards and their first at home since January 28 against the Sacramento Kings. Washington has two days to get themselves righted before they face the Denver Nuggets on Friday and the Houston Rockets on Saturday.