Despite both coming off days of rest, the Wizards and Raptors played a dismal first half of basketball, crippled by turnovers and poor shooting. However, the Wizards would eventually gain traction and hold off a late Raptors surge to take the win 90-84.
Early in the game, both teams appeared uninspired. The Raptors started the game shooting under 40% from the floor and committing 7 turnovers. Derozan had a decent start, but the rest of his teammates struggled to get into a flow. Similarly, the Wizards had trouble finding their flow, with Nene starting 0-5 from the floor and Wall sitting early with 2 fouls. The teams combined did not top the 100 point mark until late in the third quarter.
But the difference-maker for the Wizards was Brad Beal, who continues to impress more with each game. Beal notched 20 points, showing poise and great off-the-ball movement. While several Wizards played erratically, Beal was the lone reliable constant.
Washington exacted revenge on the Raptors after dropping an embarrassing loss to them last week following the All-Star break. Moreover, a road win is always remarkable, especially in Air Canada Centre.
As mentioned, tonight’s MVP is Brad Beal. Beal shot an outstanding 62% from the floor, including 2-3 from three point range and a perfect 2-2 from the free throw line. On the heels of his teammates praising his budding leadership, Beal remained well-grounded throughout the game, getting open off screens and scoring in transition. He also skied for 6 rebounds and grabbed 2 steals.
The Wizards can thank Beal for setting the precedent for effort that carried them through the end of the game.
Rudy Gay: Washington’s second MVP was Rudy Gay, who despite playing well against the Wizards last week, seemed to bring all his bad habits to tonight’s game.
Gay was ineffective all night in isolation plays, often gobbling up a lot of the shot clock before turning the ball over or missing shots. He almost singlehandedly stopped ball movement for the Raptors on several occasions and closed the game with an embarrassing 7 points (1-11 from the floor) and 5 turnovers. It was definitely the kind of poor efficiency that had Memphis fans wiping their brows.
Martell Webster: After scoring Washington’s first 5 points on a 3 and a running floater, Martell spent most of the game fairly quiet.
He played well in the 4th quarter, however, and ended up tallying 12 points on 50% shooting. Webster also played pesky perimeter defense on the Raptors to close the game, leading to them jacking up a lot of ill-advised shots.
I admired Washington’s resiliency in this game. With so many things going wrong early, and Toronto’s ability to score, the outcome could have been very different.
Both Wall and Nene had very frustrating first halves, but they came back to play key roles in Washington holding the lead. Nene, plagued by very poor shooting to start, very effectively scored in the post late, including an and-1 on a blind layup toss while driving along the baseline.
Wall overcame 2 early fouls to come back and hit a key layup and free throws that would ultimately seal the game. He closed the game with 10 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Most importantly, he only had one turnover.
Last but not least, AJ Price played extremely well to spell Wall, early. He finished with 12 points on 5-7 shooting.
Despite Nene’s late surge, Washington’s front court starters played pretty badly. Okafor was a virtual non-factor in the game, turning the ball over twice and making only 4 of his 14 shots. He simply lacked touch around the rim, as most of his hook shots and attempted lay ins were far from accurate.
Nene also shot below average, dropping in only 4 of his 10 shots, but more staggering was his ball control. He drove bullishly with his head down in the paint several times on his way to five turnovers. Nene’s visible frustration over lack of foul calls, too, sometimes hampered the Wizards’ transition defense.
Washington is capable of a good shooting performance, but tonight it didn’t show. They’re very fortunate to escape with a win after shooting 42% (34-81) from the floor. I guess we can chalk this up as a bad game, but they can’t expect continued success while giving opponents so many opportunities.