From The Other Side: Survive and Advance | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

From The Other Side: Survive and Advance

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Updated: November 4, 2016

Truth About It is a blog that primarily focuses on all things Washington Wizards. We have media credentials and that access allows for up-close coverage of games, practices, and other activities, irreverent and otherwise. But occasionally we use our access to explore what is going on with the opposing team the Wizards are facing. We call this segment, “From The Other Side,”and in today’s installment, @rashad20 focuses on the Toronto Raptors, who defeated the Wizards Wednesday night, 113-103.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had a few concerns about facing the Washington Wizards: facing an 0-2 team with their backs against the proverbial wall, and stopping the actual Wall—John Wall to be specific. Casey acknowledged that the combination of it being the home opener for the Wizards, also looking for their first win, meant that the Raptors would have to withstand the “first quarter barrage” and emotional excitement that would surely be coming their way. When asked how he would stop Wall, he peppered in compliments to go with his game plan.

“One guy is not going to stop him, he’s so strong and so fast—a lot like Russell Westbrook from that aspect. You want to get bodies in front of him, and if you give up anything you want to give up the challenged jump shot, but he’s gotten so good now, he’s making those jump shots, so you’ve got to be able to respect that also. He’s one of the most underrated point guards in the league right now. He brings everything to the table, he’s got speed, quickness and defense, now shooting, so he’s got to get the credit he deserves as a point guard.”

After three minutes the Raptors trailed 11-2 and Casey was forced to call a full timeout. After nine minutes the Raptors trailed 27-15, and Casey called a 20-second timeout to reel in his team. They failed to stop the Wizards’ inital wave of emotion (the Wizards missed just two of their first 13 shots), and the Verizon Center crowd was raucous and in a full lather. To make matters worse, Kyle Lowry was hit in the face, and had to exit the game to receive medical attention. During that same nine-minute span, Wall accounted for 16 of the Wizards’ 27 points (6 points and 5 assists), serving as catalyst for the strong start.

The Raptors came back to tie the Wizards at 27-27, thanks to the ineptitude of Washington’s second unit. And Toronto stayed in the game during the second quarter thanks to yeoman efforts by Terrence Ross (10 points) and Patrick Patterson (6 points).

“I thought Ross came in and gave us a big boost. It was a team win. DeMar (DeRozan) did his thing, but again it took [Terrence Ross] and Patrick coming off our bench,” Coach Casey said after the game. Lowry came back and played strong in the second half (14 points), and the Raptors’ commitment to doubling Bradley Beal caused turnovers, which helped them to stretch their third quarter lead to as much as 11 points.

But the primary reason the Raptors won the third quarter and the game overall was DeRozan. He scored 28 points (10-of-14 shooting), he gave Otto Porter fits with and without the ball, he scored in his midrange sweet spots, and he drove the lane and either scored or drew fouls. He even hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds left to seal the Raptors victory. DeRozan’s teammates were in awe:

“He is playing on another level right now and making my life a lot easier, and making everybody on our team’s lives a lot easier. He is saving possessions, he is creating possessions, he is creating offense.”  —Kyle Lowry

“He’s playing out of this world right now. I know going to play on the Olympic team (made him) confident. You can tell he grew during the summer. He’s a leader for us and he’s definitely showing that.” —Cory Joseph

After the game, the media wanted to ask Casey about DeRozan, but the coach was fixated on his team’s defense. The Wizards shot 72 percent in the first quarter and 58 percent for the game overall (they shot over 50 percent in all four quarters), and Washington scored 68 points in the paint—mostly because of Wall’s ability to get in the lane and Porter’s ability to seemingly be everywhere.

“You give up 68 points in the paint. Man, I don’t know. We tried switching, we sent them a different way. We got to get better at containing the ball and controlling the basketball. Having better resistance at the rim. Sixty-eight points in the paint, we live with the offense tonight. I give our guys credit, they found a way to win, which is the most important thing in this league, but with all that said our identity is controlling the paint.

“We got to do a much better job and we knew they were going to come out hot. We kind of slowed the tide down a little bit and got back in it with our offense. We can’t live every night [giving up 68 points in the paint] if we are going to be an elite team.” —Dwane Casey

Notes.

Much has been made about the relationship (or lack thereof) between John Wall and Bradley Beal, who at one point told ESPN that they were the best backcourt in the NBA. After last night’s game, Lowry and DeRozan, who made the All-Star game together last year in Toronto and played in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, showed they are a tight knit combination on and off the court. As the media walked in, DeRozan was on the phone telling his mother that Lowry was hit in the face and had stitches. Lowry was trying to downplay the injury and play up the fact that he was a warrior, while DeRozan told his mother that Lowry was shaken up and hurt. This continued for about a minute, and their argument shifted to who was going to talk to the media first. Lowry implored DeRozan to do it first, while DeRozan insisted that he be able to finish talking to his mother. DeRozan went first, then Lowry second. As the media walked away, Lowry picked up the stat sheet, studied it a bit and said:

“Did Otto Porter (23 points and 13 rebounds) really get a double-double on you bro?”

I asked Terrence Ross if there a difference between Randy Wittman’s Washington Wizards and the team currently being coached by Scott Brooks:

“Man, it feels like they got faster and quicker this year, I don’t remember all that speed before. Last year’s pace seemed a little slower for them, but now they are just 100 miles and running all the time. Everyone can run and shoot, and now more than ever you have to stop the ball. If they hadn’t taken out their starters at the end of the first, we were about to be run out the gym. They’re struggling now, but they’re going to be tough later.”

DeRozan is a career 28 percent 3-pointer shooter who prefers to get his points via the midrange, the free throw line, and at the basket. Last season he attempted more two-point shots (1238) than anyone in the NBA, and he made the second most free throw (555). But with 33.5 seconds left in the game when Wizards were within seven points, there was DeRozan hitting a 3-pointer from 29 feet (his first of the season) to seal the game. The magnitude of that moment was not lost on Lowry, who quipped:

“Now y’all can’t say he ain’t a three-point shooter. He was 1-for-2. That’s 50 percent. Now what? He scored 40 points and hit a three. What are y’all going to say now?”


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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.