From The Other Side: Raptors’ Revenge
BUCKETS BUCKETS BUCKETS pic.twitter.com/QpSryCG22m
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) March 4, 2017
Prior to last night’s game, Dwane Casey was asked why his team fell short in the Raptors’ 96-105 loss to the Washington Wizards. He identified two areas where he felt his team was deficient: the lack of attention to detail, and the failure to control Bojan Bogdanovic (and to a much lesser extent, Jason Smith):
“The disposition we had, as far as having contact, being connected with guys coming off pin-downs, understanding where the help is coming from, and the rotations, all those things—the paying attention to detail things. It was nothing that haven’t done or was unexpected, it’s just the fact of doing it. Our rhythm and our whole focus of executing defensively and offensively was off the other night.
“We knew what Bogdanovic could do as far as coming off screens and shooting it, but we did not do a good job of making sure we stayed connected with him and fought through pin-downs and those types of things. Our attention to detail with him has to be high—also, Jason Smith came in and knocked down some timely shots against our pick-and-rolls. So, those two guys came in with the second unit and made an impact.”
During the Raptors 114-106 victory over the Washington Wizards, the Raptors had no such difficulty. Instead of leading by a single point after the first quarter as they had on Wednesday, they led by eight points (scoring 35 points on 62% shooting). They were unable to slow down John Wall who had 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting in that opening stanza, but thanks to pressure defense and a concerted effort to seemingly contest every shot, the Raptors held the rest of the Wizards to 11 points on 2-of-12 shooting from the floor.
The Raptors play in the second quarter was the big difference in the game.
Toronto smothered Bogdanovic and held him to just two shots and zero points in the corner. P.J. Tucker and Norman Powell didn’t allow him even an inch of space to catch the ball, and when he did find possession, the Raptors forced it out of his hands. Delon Wright outplayed a tentative-looking Brandon Jennings, getting to the free throw line six times and withstanding close ball pressure by John Wall. Wright also blocked the shots of both Bradley Beal and Otto Porter.
Wright’s play, along with the aggressive play of Norman Powell, who seemed to pick right up from the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s game when he scored 16 points, enabled the Raptors to increase their first-half lead to 11 points, 62-53. Similar to the first quarter, when John Wall scored at will but the other Wizards were virtually silent, Beal scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, but the rest of the Wizards shot just 4-of-20.
Wizards in rally mode. Beal's 3 makes score 56-47. He raises arms to implore more crowd noise. Crowd obliges.
— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) March 4, 2017
As Coach Casey said in his postgame presser, “It’s a game of frustrations, it’s a game of mistakes sometimes, but it is how you play through it and fight through it that is probably going to determine the outcome.” That exact scenario played out in the third quarter. The Raptors lead went from 11 to four points in just three minutes, and the biggest culprits were DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas committed an offensive foul, and was powerless against Marcin Gortat, who was roaming around the perimeter. DeRozan allowed Otto Porter to score six points in two minutes and he threw an errant pass that Porter stole. Coach Casey decided he had seen enough and he pulled both players out of the game. While Valanciunas went to the bench quietly and did not play another minute the entire game, DeRozan took exception.
DeRozan was going at assistant coach Rex Kalamaian after being pulled from the game.
— Kevin Rashidi (@KevinRashidi) March 4, 2017
When he realized he was being subbed out of the game, DeRozan immediately shot an incredulous look at the bench as he walked off the court. Realizing he was not going to get an explanation from Casey, who was busy instructing the players who were on the court, he started jawing with Raptors assistant coach Rex Kalamaian for a bit, before sitting in silence. DeRozan said after the game that he just needed to relax, but at the moment he looked anything but.
Casey’s personnel moves did nothing to slow the Wizards’ momentum, and they took the lead 72-71—at which point Dwane Casey walked down to the bench and asked DeRozan to re-enter the game. He promptly hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock was running out, and then a floater to put the Raptors up 76-74. The Raptors would not trail the remainder of the game.
The fourth quarter turned into Norman Powell/DeMar DeRozan versus the Wizards starters. Powell played the role that Bogdanovic played for the Wizards earlier in the week and scored 14 points (4-6 from the field and 5-5 from the line) in the quarter, while DeRozan, buoyed by his premature benching just one quarter earlier, scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and had three assists. Porter, Beal and Wall all took turns guarding both Powell and DeRozan but to no avail. Powell put Gortat on a poster and then hit a 3 to put the Raptors up eight points, and when the Wizards closed the lead to three points with 42.2 seconds left, DeRozan scored his team’s final six points, and even shook his head in disdain at the Wizards’ attempts to guard him with just one man.
DeRozan finished with 32 points, a season-high 13 rebounds and three 3-pointers—also a season high. DeRozan joked about his sudden 3-point accuracy after the game: “I was trying to wait until I was 30 before I got started.”
But the Raptors MVP of the night was clearly Powell, who successfully filled the “closer” role that the injured Kyle Lowry usually occupies. He did not play the type of defense that Coach Casey has grown accustomed to seeing, but he scored inside and out, kept pressure on the Wizards bench and starters, and he—along with Delon Wright (9 points) and some timely shooting by Patrick Patterson (8 points)—helped the Raptors exact revenge on the Wizards.
Here’s Coach Casey on the play of Delon Wright and Norman Powell:
That's an excellent win for the Raptors. Awesome response to Wednesday. And now have tiebreaker over Was & Bos if it comes up.
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 4, 2017
— Sam Holako (@rapsfan) March 4, 2017
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