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.
Here we go again… Tonight’s Wizards-Raptors game is the third of four meetings between the two clubs. Washington and Toronto have split the 2011-12 series thus far, each team celebrating a decisive victory over the other — the average winning margin is 16 points. Although the Torontonians have been more successful on the road (5 wins) than the D.C. locals have been at home (3 wins) this season, the Raptors haven’t won a game at the Verizon Center since 2009. Consider heading to the game if you have a couple of hours to kill tonight: tickets can be scored for a buck! Raptorholic Sam Holako (@RapsFan) of ESPN TrueHoop/Raptors Republic joins TAI’s John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) for tonight’s 3-on-3 roundball roundtable. Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) Fact or Fiction: Rashard Lewis will score four or more points tonight, joining Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce as the only players in NBA history to have scored at least 15,000 points, grabbed 5,000 rebounds and hit 1,500 three-pointers in their careers. [UPDATE: Lewis is out versus the Raptors due to what is being called a sore right knee; Chris Singleton replaced him in the Wizards starting lineup.]
Players and coaches are programmed not to admit overconfidence publicly, but in the crevices of their locker room or practice courts, the Wizards and Raptors have to be looking at tonight’s game and thinking to themselves, “We are definitely winning.” In their last three games, the Wizards defeated the lowly Bobcats, came close to defeating the Orlando Magic (they aren’t playing well now, but they still have Dwight F. Howard), and the Chicago Bulls (arguably the best team in the league). Facing the Raptors, a team that gave the Wizards their first victory this season, would seem to be an easier task. The Raptors were just thoroughly whipped by the Celtics in Boston, just one night after being whipped by the Hawks in Toronto. They have to be thinking that their confidence can and will be restored against the lowly Wizards — a team they already have extra motivation to defeat after losing in Washington on January 10th. Before we see which franchise can take advantage of the other, Ryan McNeill (@ryanmcneill) of Hoops Addict, TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and yours truly, Rashad Mobley (@rashad20), will go 3-on-3 starting right now.
#1) During his six-year tenure as president/GM of the Toronto Raptors, Bryan Colangelo enjoyed some success before the departure of Chris Bosh, but since then, he has been criticized for his draft failures, the Raptors’ lack of a defensive mindset, and his puzzling free agent signings (most recently Jamaal Magloire and Anthony Parker). During his nine-year tenure as Wizards team president, Ernie Grunfeld is credited with building playoff teams during the Gilbert Arenas era, but since then his moves (or lack thereof) have the Wizards mired in something worse than mediocrity. Both GMs are now asking their fans to trust in the development of their young players, and to be patient with the rebuilding process once again. Which GM deserves to be relieved of their duties?
McNEILL: Maybe I’m being a homer, but I’m voting for Grunfeld. Besides lucking into John Wall with an easy pick, what has he done to warrant trust during his time in Washington? Colangelo was burned by Bosh, but there isn’t anyone surrounding the team who honestly thought he should have dealt him before that summer. Even the drafting of Bargnani is looking “safe” considering his development and how that draft class is now shaking out. Again, this is a homer pick, but consider Bosh was in place, and LaMarcus Aldridge (2nd pick after Bosh in 2006) was a redundant piece, so the only other player who might have been a better fit is Rudy Gay. So, sorry, I’m not buying the argument that five years with Brandon Roy (6th pick) is better than the decade Toronto will get with Bargnani.
MOBLEY: I want to say Colangelo, because those rabid, supportive Raptors fans have watched Vince Carter and Chris Bosh lead the franchise to the playoffs, and now they have to watch Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon lead them to the lottery. But Grunfeld is trying to rebuild the Wizards franchise into a contender for the third time in nine years, and everyone who started with him from Gilbert Arenas to Eddie Jordan to Flip Saunders is gone. The official rebuild will begin when he follows suit.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, but the Lost NBA Season (now in full effect) leaves us with a bit less to be thankful for this year. On the bright side, it gives us an opportunity to remember what we can of the past. Shall we?
When the Goodman and Drew Leagues faced off in their inaugural summer league exhibition game back in August, one of most intriguing battles turned out to be the face-off between Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee and Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins. McGee showed off his athleticism and shot-blocking prowess, while Cousins countered with his strong power post-up game and rebounding dominance.
Although their physiques are obviously different, both players do have some similarities. No one can question their elite athletic ability, as they do things on the basketball court few at their size can pull off. Yet, both also sometimes think they’re guards; JaVale is famous for showcasing his dribbling “talents,” and deep down Cousins loves to launch threes.
Both have had fisticuffs with teammates that led to team-sanctioned suspensions. Goodman League commissioner Miles Rawls has nicknamed Cousins “Bad Attitude,” with good reason, and McGee constantly possesses an on-court scowl. Both love to raise the blood pressure of their coaches with mental lapses and by taking plays off. Most importantly to fans, both have potential to be solid performing anchors for their respective franchises for a long time.
The following video contains highlights of the duo from that D.C. summer evening at a packed Trinity University that I recorded with my Flip Cam, so bear with me on some of the grainy footage.
[Editor's Note: Beckley Mason provided Verizon Center coverage of Saturday night's 98-95 Wizards win over the Toronto Raptors for TAI. You can usually find Beckley at the TrueHoop Network general NBA blog, HoopSpeak.com. You can also find him on Twitter: @BeckleyMason. -Kyle W.]
“Yi has a great set of skills. When he dunked it tonight I was like ‘OK China.’” -Andray Blatche
Debating which is worse, wasting two and half hours watching that putrid Wizards defensive performance against the Toronto Raptors in a 127- 108 rout, or trying to figure out what to write for a game recap. Both seem like torture for a Wizards fan, but I will at least try a bigger literary effort than Andray Blatche does at defense. The Wizards team wore red shoes, headbands, and warm ups to honor World AIDS Week, although it was pretty symbolic of the matador D that they unveiled in Canada Wednesday evening.
The Wizards did their usual roadkill performance in remarkable fashion by giving up 72 points on 32 made FGs — in the first half! With the Magic, Celtics and Hawks already destroying the Wizards this season, you could at least counter that those are playoff teams. Not the case with a sub par 6-11 Raptors team, the Wizards were lucky to hold them under 140 points.
The Raptors did shoot a blistering 67% in the first half, yet, most of them were dunks, fast-break lay-ups and easy buckets around the hoop. Thirty of the Raptors first 40 points came in the paint (62 for the game), and they tallied 50 points in the first 17 minutes of the game, ending up with 32 fast break points. Toronto also crushed the Wiz 52-30 in rebounding.
Andrea Bargnani looked like the version of Dirk Nowitzki everyone thought he could be when the Raptors drafted him first overall in 2006. He threw down facial dunks, grabbed offensive boards at ease, and flowed in any jumper he wanted at will. DeMar Derozan did a ‘Bo Kimble at Loyola Marymount’ impression, Leandro Barbosa was Tim Hardaway in Run TMC, Jose Calderon put on a ‘Fat Lever with the Nuggets’ play-making act, and Jerryd Bayless was, sigh … you get the picture. But let John Wall paint it for you:Read more »
The first time I ever heard DeMar DeRozan was in May of 2009, when he was interviewed by Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and others at the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp. He had just averaged 14 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman at USC and decided to declare for the NBA Draft. During this pre-draft camp, he bragged that he could jump higher than Vince Carter, he said his game compared to no one in the NBA, and he mentioned that he followed the Wizards because of his friendship with Washington guard Nick Young–who also attended USC.
The first time I actually metDeRozan was during the 2010 All-Star weekend in Dallas. He had just won the “Dunk-In Contest”, which meant he could compete in the actual Dunk Contest (where he was the runner-up to Nate Robinson). The then-rookie was excited to be getting the exposure that comes with participating in All-Star weekend, and he was looking forward to soaking in as much of it as possible. I distinctly remember DeRozan saying, “USC baby!” as he walked away from the media, but I never thought to explore the relationship among the two Trojans, DeRozan and Young.
Shortly before the Raptors-Wizards game last night, I decided to do a bit of investigative journalism to find out more about this bond between the two players. My timing could not have been better, because DeRozan was coming off an impressive two-game stretch that saw him score a career-high 26 points in the Raptors’ victory over the Orlando Magic, and 21 points in a close loss to the Miami Heat.