December 30, 2015 – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON
The Wizards crossed the Northern Border looking to rebound after a Monday night loss to the Clippers. But rebound they did not.
The Raptors attacked carnivorously, piercing and slashing the Wizards from all angles. Lowry hit threes. DeRozan attacked the paint. Bismack Biyombo attacked the glass. Slowly, torturously, systematically, the Raptors bled their prey dry.
The Wizards refused to go easily, summoning bursts of life whenever the Raptors let up. But every time the Wizards would get close, the Raptors would once again step on their throat. The Wizards were able to cut it to one in the final minute on a Jared Dudley three. After two Kyle Lowry free throws, the Wizards summoned one final, frenetic hope, getting three good looks to tie the game. But as each clanged off the rim, and Wall’s final attempt was blocked, the buzzer sounded on a loss that was much closer than it felt.
The Wizards final surge was valiant, but the wounds they suffered throughout the game proved deadly. The Wizards were outrebounded 55 to 44, and 15 to 8 on the offensive glass. And when the Raptors weren’t getting their own boards, they were drawing fouls, getting in the penalty early, and attacking the basket, leading to 39 free throw attempts for the game, compared to just 17 for Washington.
Earlier in 2015 when the Wizards left Toronto, they had left a path of playoff destruction in their wake. On this final game of this 2015, they left bloody, while the Raptors completed their victorious feast. And apparently, this is how their fans will celebrate:
#WizRaps in a tweet..
The Game’s Top Performer:
On this night, there was no questioning who the Alpha was on the court. DeRozan was dominant, scoring a season high 34 points. He attacked the paint relentlessly, getting to the line 15 times, and making all 15 free throws. He added 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
A forgettable night for..
Marc had 12 points and 9 rebounds, not a terrible night statistically. But he was the main course of what was a feast on the boards by the Raptors and Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo Bi-Smacked the Wizards all over the glass, on his way to 12 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive. He had 10 of those rebounds (4 offensive) in the first half, when the Raptors built an 11 point lead. When he wasn’t getting rebounds, he was getting fouled, by Gortat and others repeatedly. The rebounding troubles weren’t all on Gortat, but as the Wizards top big man, he has to set the tone. He didn’t.
John Wall was stellar all-around once again. Wall put together a stat line of 19 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, and 5 steals, putting a box score stuffing exclamation point on what was a simply spectacular December. It was his 7th straight game with 11+ assists, matching a career high he set last December. Of course, none of this matters to Wall without the win, which is what makes him great.
Otto Porter had another strong showing (though one more three would’ve been great!). Porter led the Wizards with 20 points, added 9 rebounds, and shot 3/5 from three point range. Porter has responded to Kelly Oubre’s strong play in his absence, by stepping up his own game. That’s exactly what the Wizards will need if they are going to make a strong push in 2016.
Once again, the Wizards have now followed up a small winning streak with a small losing streak. Sitting at 11th in the East, the Wizards have to find a way to be more consistent when it comes to wins, and more resilient when it comes to bouncing back from wins. Every team in the league loses games. The great teams avoid letting losses turn into losing streaks. Until they do, they risk turning the season into a lost season.