I caught up with Rashard to ask him about tonight’s matchup with the Raptors. The take away: Both teams have the same game plan. The Raptors play fast and loose with plenty of pick and rolls. According to Lewis, the Wizards will look to do much the same.
Lewis identified forward Andre Bargnani and point guard Jose Calderon as the primary threats on the Raptors, as I’d imagine Toronto is concerned about the Lewis-Wall tandem.
Bargnani is a big key for this team, he’s playing great this year. He’s big, so he creates matchup problems, he can shoot threes– he can post up, he can drive to the basket, sets a lot of pick and rolls with the pick and pop or he can roll to the basket… so it’s a number of different things to look out for. And Calderon is also a good point guard so there’s a number of different things we need to be ready to defend with those two.
As for pace, Rashard supposes the Wizards need to push the ball as much as possible, but it has to come from defense. That is, play fast, but not loose.
It’s a big key tonight. We need to come out and hit them first, set the tone . You know they like to play fast but we like to play fast, as well because John is our point guard, and he’s better when we play fast… I think if we can defend first and hold them to one shot and then kick the ball to John and get out and just run we’ll be better off on offense.
“I feel like I’ve been blindsided by Brian Orakpo. I mean, that was just … wow.”
-Wizards television commentator Steve Buckhantz after witnessing a first half of basketball in which the Wizards allowed 44 points in the paint, and let Toronto shoot 67% en route to a 72-52 lead after 24 minutes. The Raptors ultimately prevailed 127-108.
Let’s take a look at a screen-shot depiction of the fun, shall we?
There’s no place like home, evidently … especially when the Wizards play defense like Dorothy.
Oh, and these are the red shoes Gilbert Arenas wore against the Raptors for World AIDS Week.
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 »
Poor Vince Carter. Above, he can be seen shooting a basketball before a recent meeting between his team and the Washington Wizards in the District of Columbia. He didn’t play in said game against the Wizards, as Carter is wont to do — not play in games due to injury, that is.
Poor Vince Carter. He’s getting paid $17 million this year. He’s previously quit on a team from Canada according to some (Like A Bosh), he could keep his current team, the Orlando Magic, from winning a championship, and he seemed to be ever so slightly perturbed that the photographer taking these pictures, aka me, was taking these pictures.
“They’re supposed to be out here already?,” blabbered Carter to an assistant coach. I appeased the man by walking away upon detection of his annoyance at such a disturbance. Sorry Vince.
In basketball, you’re either a winner or you’re a loser. There is no middle ground.
The inviting glow of the winners’ locker room (which I had the pleasure of stepping into after yesterday’s 109-94 win over the Toronto Raptors) effectuates a merry media ceremony. Members of the press toast their champions with microphones, audio recorders, and Flip cams. The players imbibe in the festivities, reciprocating praise with sound bites and smiles.
The locker room across the arena is just like this, but flipped entirely on its axis. The frigid, polar opposite.
Post-game thoughts often roll off the tongue in the heat of the moment, with little thought. And there are always two sides to every story. Let’s read between the lines:
[Quotes via Washington Wizards Basketball Communications]
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.
With John Wall sitting out for the first time in his young career, Kirk Hinrich moved over to the point position and played 39 minutes of rock solid basketball against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night in a Wizards 109-94 win. Displaying the attention to detail that allows him to impact games despite average athleticism and skill level, Hinrich routinely made the hard rotation, the sharp pass, and the clever read on his way to a double-double delight — a 13 point, 12 assist, four rebound and two turnover performance.
On back-to-back plays in the first quarter, just four minutes into the game, Hinrich made a pretty move to split two defenders and finish, then made a smart rotation and was able to give Reggie Evans a hard foul– preventing a dunk and sending the career 52% free throw shooter to the line (where he made one shot). The 20-second exchange summarized a night in which Hinrich made more flashy plays than usual, while also contributing the gritty, intelligent veteran plays that have kept him in the league.
Hinrich worked effectively in side pick-and-rolls, scoring three times by refusing the screen and either hopping laterally for a mid-range pull up or attacking the basket. In transition, Hinrich made a number of touch passes for easy finishes—he doesn’t replicate or even approximate Wall’s end-to-end speed, but the results were similar: two points for the Wizards. With the inexperienced Sonny Weems or diminutive Jose Calderon checking him for much of the night, the big veteran guard controlled the tempo throughout the game. The Wizards got off to a hot offensive start, in no small part because Hinrich was able to hand out four assists in the first quarter alone. Playing the awful Raptors’ defense didn’t hurt either.
Despite his enormous impact on the game, Hinrich’s subtle double-double is best understood by way of contrast to Nick Young. Young, who scored 20 points on 10-15 shooting, was the local broadcast’s interview subject at the end of the first half and in the locker room following the game. His impressive individual efforts on the offensive end were easy to appreciate. Young hit on a number of catch-and-shoot opportunities and even tossed in a couple of pull up Js before punctuating his night with a terrific fast break dunk. But in 30 minutes of run, Young contributed almost nothing other than hot shooting (well, he did pull down a career-high defensive six rebounds — Toronto’s woeful shooting made that pretty easy).
On the surface, tonight’s game between the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards just looks like a battle of two struggling teams. The Raptors are 2-8 and in last place of the Atlantic Division, while the Washington Wizards are 2-6 and in last place in the Southeast. Both teams have gone through major personnel changes since the ’09-10 season, and both were expected to have uphill climbs this season.
Of course, the major difference is that the Raptors lost the face of their franchise in Chris Bosh over the summer, while the Wizards welcomed their new future when they drafted John Wall. The loss of Bosh without a significant player in return has basically ensured that the Raptors will struggle this season, and likely longer. The addition of a young player in Wall means that the Wizards may struggle this year, but their future certainly seems to be in great and capable hands.
It is quite easy for me to make grandiose, sweeping generalizations about the Toronto Raptors, because I observe the team from afar (afar, meaning I have not watched them play an entire game all season). So to get a better idea of what’s truly going with Raptors, I decided to reach out to my old editor, Mr. Ryan McNeill.
Ryan is the editor and founder of the site, HoopsAddict.com, and he has covered the Raptors with credentials for four years. He has appeared on NBA XL, ESPN Radio, The Fan 590, The Chris Townsend Show and WSRQ 1220, and he is also contributor to SLAM ONLINE.
UPDATE: Congrats to @TwiceDown and @tehbee for winning the tickets … stay tuned because TAI will have more ticket giveaways in the future. -Kyle
[Gilbert Arenas had a breakout performance in Chicago on Saturday, dropping 30 points in just under 32 minutes (aided by 7-10 from deep). Will he do something similar at home against the Raptors tomorrow? You could be there to find out ... keep reading.]
Okay, so John Wall is currently day-to-day with a left foot sprain. Andray Blatche? His knee is a bit swollen and he’s also day-to-day. Add Yi Jianlian (bone bruise/hyperextended knee) to the list of walking wounded too.