Story By: Richard Thomas
Photos By: Sol Tucker
Last year the Washington Wizards just completely owned the Toronto Raptors, this year they are lucky to own a pair of their shoes. Tonight it was one player that kept Wall and his crew from getting any closer to that .500 mark before the All Star break, Demar DeRozan.
De Rozan scored 21 of his season-high 35 points in the second half, Kyle Lowry had 21 points and 10 assists, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Washington Wizards 97-88 on Friday night.
The Raptors overcame a season-high 23 turnovers, taking control with an 18-4 run that gave them a 69-59 lead with 2:40 to play in the third quarter.
John Wall scored 21 points as Washington (15-19) lost for the fifth time in six games and matched a season worst at four games under .500.
The Wizards cut Toronto’s lead to 89-83 with 2:50 to play, but couldn’t get any closer.
“We just have to find a way to close these tight games,” said Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman.
Wittman has struggled to find the right combination of balanced scoring since Bradley Beal has been out of the line-up. No one has consistently taken the load off Wall, who seemed to have his frustration level boil over in the Cleveland game.
“We had a party last night,” Wittman said. “We had 10 guys to practice. We got to go a little bit of 5-on-5. That was the first time since right around Thanksgiving we’ve been able to do that.”
Washington, which swept a four-game playoff series between the teams last spring, has lost six consecutive regular-season meetings to the Raptors.
When you have the game within reach at 6 points with just under 3 minutes remaining, the Wizards have to find a way to get the scoring that keeps them in the game. They hit the road to Orlando on Saturday, where hopefully they can find some more answers to this scoring problem.