The Wizards could not get back to the .500 mark, falling at home to the red hot Raptors, 101-88. The Raptors were up for most of the first half, but the Wizards closed to just three by the break. The third quarter proved to be a disaster for the Wizards, as Trevor Ariza was issued two technical fouls and the Raptors outscored the Wizards 36-16 to open up a 23 point lead. The Wizards cut it to 13 before all was said and done but it was too little, too late. The Raptors put on a three point shooting clinic, shooting 11/22 from long distance and 50.6% overall. The Wizards struggled from the field, shooting just 41.5%. The Wizards did outrebound the Raptors by a significant margin, 42-33, led in large part by another big rebounding night from Trevor Booker who grabbed 13. Nene led five Wizards in double digits with 15 on the night. For the Raptors, Lowry led the way with 19 points and 11 assists and was a perfect 4/4 from beyond the arc. DeMar Derozan led all scorers with 20 and DC native Patrick Patterson had 18. - Jacob Raim
The Wizards trailed the Raptors for almost the entire first half, however they kept it competitive and didn't let the Raptors’ lead get out of hand. Trevor Ariza hit a three-pointer with under one minute left to tie the game at 45, but the Wizards head into the locker room losing 48-45 at half. John Wall and Nene lead the Wizards with 10 points each. Wall also had 6 assists and is on pace to tally a double-double for the 11th time this season. After a monstrous New Year's Day game against the Dallas Mavericks, Trevor Booker continues to dominate the glass with a team-high 9 rebounds and also added 4 points to the score sheet. Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan lead the Toronto Raptors with 12 points each, and point guard Kyle Lowry had an excellent half with 7 assists and 9 points, shooting 3-3 from three-point land.
In the second half, the Wizards should look to keep up with the Raptors aggressive tempo, and continue with their defensive aggressiveness. Also, it would be nice to see Bradley Beal find his rhythm and start lighting it up from downtown. - Brad Bobrow
We are closing in on #WizRaptors tip here at Verizon Center and although it may be freezing outside, the Raptors are about the hottest team in the NBA right now. In his pregame media availability, Randy Wittman said "we'll need to play one of our better games tonight to come out of here with a win." He's probably right. Toronto has won six of their last seven on the road and enter tonight's game in fourth place in the Eastern Conference at 15-15. They just beat the Pacers in Toronto on Wednesday and will be a tough opponent tonight.
Keep an eye on the two backcourts tonight. We see John Wall and Bradley Beal every night, but Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are both playing at a high level right now, which is a big reason why the Raptors are 9-3 since trading Rudy Gay. Wittman spoke about how a team can loosen up when they lose their leading scorer, and it certainly seems to have done the trick in Toronto.
Speaking of playing at a high level, no point guard in the Eastern Conference is playing at a higher level than John Wall right now. He's scored at least 20 points in eight straight games and the last time he played Toronto he went off for a season-high 37. There's no reason he'll slow down tonight, so expect some more magic from the Wizards' leader tonight.
The Wizards can move back to .500 with a win tonight and begin a new home winning streak at Verizon Center.
Thursday's Practice Report
The effort was there. The shot-making ability... Not so much. Wednesday's New Year's Day game with the Mavs will be one the Wizards want to quickly move on from, as they were held to just 78 points on 37.5% shooting. But, the good thing about the NBA? There is rarely a long wait until that next game.
For the Wizards, that next game will be Friday when they host the Toronto Raptors at Verizon Center. The team was back at VC on Thursday for their second practice of the week and already prepared to move past Wednesday's game and shift their focus to Toronto.
It sounded like the coaches had already begun telling the players about Toronto's road success, because all three players who spoke to the media on Thursday knew that the Raptors have been red-hot of late, especially on the road. The Raps have won six of their last seven road games and are 9-3 overall since dealing Rudy Gay to Sacramento. And those six road wins haven't been over the league's bottom dwellers. They've won twice in Chicago, once in Oklahoma City, Dallas, New York, and L.A. They are one of the hottest teams in the league and are coming off a convincing home win over the Indiana Pacers, who are currently tied with the Thunder for the best record in the NBA at 25-6.
The Wizards have won four of their last five games on the road, but strangely enough have lost four of five at Verizon Center, the site of Friday night's game. Last season, after John Wall returned from injury the Wizards went 18-6 at home. They are currently 7-6 at home and 7-9 on the road.
They know that in order to be a playoff team they must protect their home court and beat the teams in their conference with similar aspirations. The Raptors enter Friday's game at 15-15, first place in the Atlantic Division and a half game ahead of the Wiz in the standings. They are a team playing with a ton of confidence and will be a tough team to beat. But, this is a game the Wizards know they can win if they play up to their capabilities.
The Raptors beat the Wiz, 96-88, back in November at the Air Canada Centre. Friday night the Wizards get a chance to avenge that loss and move back to .500 in the standings.
We'll be back for more throughout the day on Friday, so stay tuned for more.
Thursday's Practice Interviews: