The Reaction: It’s Closer North of the Border Than You Think (aka Raptors 99, Wizards 92)
Below are my reactions to Sunday evening’s Wizards-Raptors game, as also pub’d on ESPN’s Daily Dime with a variety of other NBA-related recaps. I’ve also added the two additional sections and lineup stats for good measure.
But First, To Note…
Wizards top 5-man lineup (plus/minus of plus-5): John Wall, Roger Mason, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely – 6 minutes, 16 points, 5-for-8 FGs, 2-for-4 3PM, 4-for-4 FTs, 4 rebounds, 5 assists.
A close second (plus-3): John Wall, Roger Mason, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin – 4 minutes, 9 points, 4-for-6 FGs, 1-for-1 3PM, 0 FTs, 2 rebounds, 2 assists.
The worst (minus-7): John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Chris Singleton, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin (the starters) – 17 minutes, 32 points, 12-for-24 FGs, 3-for-5 3PM, 5-for-7 FTs, 10 rebounds, 8 assists.
React (daily dime).
MVP: Andrea Bargnani, now presumably more comfortable starting at the 4 next to Aaron Gray, was as good as he needed to be against the second-worst team in the NBA. The Italian had a couple jumpers working off the dribble against the likes of Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton. The fact that Bargnani scored 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting and is being named MVP should tell you all you need to know about this game.
X-Factor: Amir Johnson and the Toronto bench. Johnson had a huge putback dunk with a minute left to put Toronto up 91-86; his hefty play combined with that of Ed Davis led to the Raptors’ bench outscoring Washington’s 40-20. Gary Forbes had just enough space to get some jumpers working, and scored nine points. Alan Anderson, on a 10-day contract, also scored nine points. Both players hit two free-throws each with less than 20 seconds left to seal the win for Toronto.
That was…. rough (picture in your mind Will Ferrell trying to impersonate a dog barking over and over again). Without Nene and Trevor Booker for the Wizards, one thought the recently progressive Raptors could win by more than seven points against Washington. The box score doesn’t look the worst in the world for either team, but the contest really came down to what lottery team wanted to lose the game less.
L.V.P.: Are we being too hard on John Wall? Or is the reality further setting in that he hasn’t put as much time into his own development that people hoped he would have. Part of it is kid-Wall, burst upon the scene as the sudden savior No. 1 selection of a paltry 2010 class, has been surrounded by toxic relations since his entry into the NBA. The other part is him. Wall came close to helping the Wizards steal one on the road in Toronto without Nene and Booker, but his game on this night was too much of a shrug-the-shoulders affair.
Game-Deciding Moment: Again, it’s not like the Wizards didn’t try. This performance continues to be along the long lines of the ‘this team is better post-trade’ narrative, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to critique. Playing without Nene and Cook Book only provides an out-of-the-box predication on how the game should have been played, not what actually happened. Yes, the game-deciding moment was Amir Johnson’s follow slam with a minute left that put the Raptors up five points; had Jordan Crawford contained DeMar DeRozan off the dribble, it might not have happened. But we all know that’s just a snap shot of the whole boat trip. Essentially: Wizards nation is waiting for Ted Leonsis to admit that next season is really year No. 1 of rebuilding, not the third of such seasons in the effort, as he’s previously claimed.
In other words, Wizards fans, don’t worry too much about this loss. Better days just have to be built.
Hello, Jose Calderon Faces.