Wizards Beat Toronto Behind Bogdanovic’s Big Buckets | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Beat Toronto Behind Bogdanovic’s Big Buckets

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Updated: March 2, 2017

In the last 48 hours, the Washington Wizards have defeated the Golden State Warriors, the Toronto Raptors and they’ve acquired the services of Brandon Jennings. The angst surrounding the two-game losing streak immediately after the All-Star break has been replaced with optimism and visions of playoff grandeur.

A Wizards pessimist could easily throw water on this fire by pointing out the Warriors were without the services of Kevin Durant, the Raptors did not have Kyle Lowry, and that Jennings is too mercurial and inconsistent to be counted on as the team’s off-the-bench savior. That same pessimist could also point to the Wizards upcoming road trip as yet another reason why Washington should be, at best, cautiously optimistic as they wade through the month of March. All those factors may very well be true, but that cannot quell the momentum the Wizards are currently enjoying—one of the best records in the league after December and, more specifically, back-to-back wins against playoff teams.

So, how did they defeat the Raptors? The usual suspects—Wall and Beal—played a starring role, but Bojan Bogdanovic and the bench did yeoman’s work.

During the first six minutes of the first quarter, it looked like the Wizards’ starters could do no wrong offensively. There were no wasted dribbles, the ball swung from side to side with ease, and all five starters scored. A Markieff Morris 3-point shot put the Wizards up 19-11 with 5:40 left in the quarter. For the Raptors, the only effective part of the offense was Jonas Valanciunas’s ability to secure offensive rebounds by outmaneuvering Marcin Gortat and Morris. Then Duane Casey called timeout and he must have instructed his team to make a concerted effort to get the ball to both DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka, because those two players scored 13 of the Raptors’ next 15 points, and Toronto took the lead at the end of the first quarter, 26-24.

Then Bogdanovic and the Wizards bench took over the game.

Tomas Satoransky was the point guard (Trey Burke didn’t travel for personal reasons), Jason Smith was the power forward, Ian Mahinmi was the center, Bogdanovic was the shooting guard, and Kelly Oubre was the small forward. For the first 4:19 of the the second quarter, that group dominated the Raptors on both ends of the floor—something no Wizards fan (or coach, for that matter) probably ever expected to see before Brandon Jennings officially slipped into a Wizards jersey. Mahinmi blocked two shots, which sparked two Wizards fast breaks. Coach Brooks decided to un-bench and defrost Jason Smith, and the big man rewarded his coach by turning into a midrange savant. Oubre had a rebound and a block of his own, and Bogdanovic scored 12 points during that span.

It wasn’t simply that Bogdanovic was scoring buckets, it was the way he was achieving that feat. Yes, he hit a bunch of 3-point shots, but he also showed that he could drive and cut to the basket with ease. Satoranky assisted in the process by getting Bogdanovic and the rest of the second team into their offensive sets—something Trey Burke did not do consistently and something occasional-backup-point guard Bradley Beal still does not do comfortably.

Toronto called timeout, re-inserted Ibaka, DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll, but the Wizards bench (minus Mahinmi, who had been subbed out for Morris) continued their dominance on both ends. Bogdanovic drew a four-point play on DeRozan, and Jason Smith stole a bad pass from Ibaka, which led to an Oubre fast break. By the time DeRozan hit a step-back jumper to make the score 50-29, the Wizards had held Toronto scoreless for nearly half the quarter (5:55, to be exact) and outscored them 26-2. The Wizards starters re-entered the game, one by one, and even they couldn’t maintain the blistering pace the bench had set. The Raptors were just able to cut the lead to 16 by halftime.

The numbers the bench put up—again, it is worth repeating that this is before the arrival of Mr. Jennings—were quite staggering:

  • 28 of the Wizards’ 38 points in the second quarter
  • 10-for-10 from the field (including 3-3 from the field, all by Bogdanovic)
  • 9-for-9 from the free throw line
  • 7 assists to just one turnover

Bogdanovic finished with 16 points during the quarter, which was not only a team-high but also tied for the game-high through the first half with DeRozan. The Wizards’ starters did their best bench imitation to start the third quarter and stretched their 16-point halftime lead to 23 with a 9-2 run. From that point on, both the Wizards and the Raptors put on a putrid display of basketball. The Wizards shot 28 percent from the field, while the Raptors were even worse, hitting only 19 percent. Still, thanks to the cushion that Bogdanovic and the bench built in the early going, the Wizards maintained a 22-point lead heading into the final stanza. The most damning stat through three quarters: The Wizards had 25 assists (11 by John Wall) on 31 field goals while the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors managed just three on 22.

The Wizards’ bench was not quite as dynamic at the start of the fourth quarter as they were in the second, but they managed to tread water and keep the lead at 20 points until the starters came trickling back into the game. Then Ibaka hit consecutive 3-pointers and Dwight Powell (who had 14 points in the quarter) got to the basket via a driving layup and suddenly the lead was 14 points. After Washington called timeout, Morris got a tip-in at the rim, and the next time the Raptors went down the floor, Ibaka appeared to be headed towards a dunk to cut the lead back to 14.

But that’s when John Wall shut him all the way down:

After a scoreless minute or so of play, Bradley Beal hit a 3-pointer to put the Wizards up 19 points, and after the Raps cut it back to 16 on the very next possession, Bogdanovic hit his final 3-pointer of the game to put the Wizards back up 19 with 2:41 left. Not even a minute later, Coach Brooks inserted Satoransky, Daniel Ochefu and the newly acquired Chris McCullough into the game, just to let everyone know how confident he was that his team would emerge victorious.

Bogdanovic finished with a game-high 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting, Beal chimed in with 23 points, and Wall finished with 12 points and 13 assists. Aside from the bench-fueled second quarter, the game wasn’t aesthetically pleasing to watch and at times—much like the Golden State game—the play was downright sloppy. Still, the Wizards found a way to beat a team they were supposed to beat, and they did it less than 24 hours after beating the Warriors. Even more impressive, the Wizards won on the strength of their bench, something that has rarely, if ever, happened this season. Not bad at all.

Notes:

  • Otto Porter went scoreless last night in 19 minutes of play—the first time he’s failed to score in a game since March 23, 2015, when he went scoreless in five minutes of play against the Golden State Warriors. The league’s leader in 3-point percentage (45.7 percent) was lucky that Bogdanovic bailed him out by going 6-for-7 (85.7 percent) from the 3-point line. It’s a good bet that Porter will not be missing in action Friday night when they play the Raptors at the Verizon Center.
  • Brandon Jennings is officially a Washington Wizard, and, sadly, Danuel House was waived after spending the majority of the season out with an injured wrist. In case you missed it, Conor Dirks and I discussed the pros and cons of Jennings here.
  • Speaking of Jennings, he is going to love playing with Ian Mahinmi, if he creates fast break opportunities off of blocked shots the way he did last night. Mahinmi is still getting into shape, having missed the majority of the season with knee injuries, but he’s clearly made his presence felt on the defensive end of the floor:

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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.