Wizards

Sports ode 2012: London, Lance, a Tide of Giants

201212241058395126133-p2.jpeg

Sports ode 2012: London, Lance, a Tide of Giants

So how was your year? Setbacks, advances?

Hey, no doubt, it went better than Lance's.

First up on sports' yearlong ride:

An unrelenting Crimson Tide.

JoePa makes his great migration

Trailed by heartache, litigation.

Eli's coming and Giants roll

Past Brady in the Super Bowl.

Suddenly, all's Linsanity:

Headlines, puns, sheer inanity.

Banned Ryan Braun left fans aghast.

An arbiter says not so fast.

Daytona, Kenseth - let's explain:

The night sets fire to the rain.

Then football gets its jolt of jolts

When Peyton's place is not with Colts.

Tebow leaves the Mile High air

And joins the Jets - a time for prayer.

Kentucky wins, backed by Davis.

Rent a team (call Hertz or Avis).

Baylor follows. Need a reason?

Brittney Griner, perfect season.

Ozzie Guillen, with much to tell,

Sings loving praises of Fidel.

The shaken Saints now turn to Vitt.

Pat Summitt says it's time to quit.

Out at Indy, sitting pretty,

Once again it's all Franchitti.

Pro football vets demand their due.

Concussed and angry, thousands sue.

I'll Have Another's path seems clear,

But still no Triple Crown this year.

Wait a second. Can this be right?

Manny Pacquiao lost a fight?

Lord Stanley's Cup goes to the Kings

While hockey's woes wait in the wings.

After all the sound and fury,

Clemens walks, cleared by a jury.

The Heat are champs. It looks like reign.

South Beach party - LeBron and Dwyane.

Sandusky's jury has its say:

This coach won't see the light of day.

Soccer's armada, mighty Spain,

Captures the Euros in Ukraine.

Come Wimbledon, Serena's crown.

Paterno's statue taken down.

Then Wiggins rides with guile and grit.

The Tour de France goes to a Brit.

Olympics start, McCartney sings.

Phelps swims with gills, Bolt soars with wings.

Pistorius runs, Gabby's great.

A specter looms: Badmintongate.

Brilliant games, with heart and brio.

Snuff the flame and on to Rio.

Augusta bends. How awfully nice.

A female member - Condi Rice.

Lance lambasted for all to see,

His lies unfold as sponsors flee,

His titles stripped, life off its hinge.

Now it's all about the syringe.

Perfect time to make this wager:

Andy Murray wins a major.

The NHL then shuts its door.

(I think we've heard this song before.)

Replacement refs prove one big mess.

The league is forced to acquiesce.

Ryder Cup comes to Medinah.

Europe gives U.S. angina.

Hold no vote, form no committee -

Washington's a baseball city.

Those Oakland A's, no hand-me-down.

Miguel Cabrera, Triple Crown.

Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.

This really doesn't make much sense.

The Giants sweep to take it all.

Black and orange, the style for fall.

No marathon, New York City.

Sandy strikes and shows no pity.

Colts ride a wave of splendid Luck.

They shave their heads and play for Chuck.

The Lakers stumble, won't sit still,

Sign Mike D'Antoni, pass on Phil.

Keselowski, Penske Sprint to Cup.

Notre Dame, `Bama, coming up.

College conferences realign,

In thrall to TV's dollar sign.

Maryland, Rutgers, Big Ten bound.

The money chase goes round and round.

The Chiefs and Cowboys reel from blows.

The NFL's in mourning clothes.

Johnny Football wins Heisman race.

Pacquiao's crushed, flat on his face.

The year is quickly put to bed,

With what's been done and what's been said,

While limbering up sight unseen

For what's on deck ... 2013.

Quick Links

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

The Toronto Raptors' best player has become a serious problem for the Washington Wizards, as they now face a 3-2 series deficit and the bleak reality that one more loss means their season is over.

DeMar DeRozan, who began this first round series with a modest 17 points in Game 1, has since raised his game to a new level to beyond even what we have seen in the past. In Games 2-5, DeRozan has averaged 31.8 points, including his 32-game outburst in Game 5 that tilted the series in Toronto's favor.

DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points through five games against the Raptors. That's up considerably from his 22.5-point career playoff average.

DeRozan scored his 32 points in Game 5 with efficiency. He shot 12-for-24 from the field and even made three of his four shots from three.

He didn't even need the free throw line like he normally does. DeRozan shot six free throws, less than his regular season average.

The Wizards are having trouble with DeRozan particularly in the first half. DeRozan is averaging 14.8 first-half points during the playoffs, second only to LeBron James. 

DeRozan had 20 points by halftime in Game 5.

"DeMar was in his element tonight," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He got it going early. It was kind of hard to shut him off."

The Wizards are paying for disrespecting DeRozan's three-point shot. He shot just 31.2 percent from long range in the regular season, but is shooting threes at a 45.5 percent clip in the playoffs.

If DeRozan is knocking them down from outside, his offensive game is as complete as just about anyone in the NBA. He has shown in this series an impressive ability to not only get to the rim, but finish through contact or draw fouls.

DeRozan does a good job of maintaining body and ball control going straight up against Wizards' big men and is often rewarded by the referees. He shot a playoff career-high 18 free throws in Game 4.

The Wizards are actually doing a decent job of taking away his midrange shots, which usually account for much of his points. Though DeRozan is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent from 5-to-9 feet, up from his season clip of 47.6, his numbers are down from further out.

DeRozan is shooting 40 percent from 10-to-14 feet out, down from 41.5 percent in the regular season, and just 28.6 percent from 15-to-19 feet, down from 43.7.

DeRozan is hurting the Wizards from long range and within nine feet of the rim. He is taking what the Wizards are giving him and Washington has to adjust.

"We’ve gotta pretty much get it out of [his] hands. Make sure we take care of everybody else," Oubre said.

The Wizards should look to how the defended him in Game 4 as a good example of how to limit his impact. DeRozan had 35 points, but required 29 shots from the field and 18 free throws to get there. 

Washington forced DeRozan into an inefficient night and forced others to try to beat them. The result was the Wizards' best defensive game overall, as the Raptors scored a series-low 98 points.

DeRozan isn't the only defensive concern for the Wizards as they look ahead to Game 6 on Friday. Backup point guard Delon Wright scored 18 points for the second time this series and Toronto hit 11 threes in the game.

The Wizards held the Raptors to just seven threes in Game 4 and it was no coincidence they won that game. They have to lock down the perimeter and, as this series has shown, that includes DeRozan even though he isn't known for making threes.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WALL IS BOYCOTTING DRAKE'S MUSIC DURING SERIES

WIZARDS WENT ICE COLD IN 4TH QUARTER OF GAME 5

WALL HAS REACHED PEAK FORM AMAZINGLY QUICK

Quick Links

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 108-98 in Game 5 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Ice cold: When the Wizards needed it most, their offense failed them. With John Wall running the show, they can traditionally score with the best of them. But from the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter, they went scoreless for a stretch of three minutes and 49 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Raptors converted turnovers into points to close the game on a 14-5 run. The Wizards shot brick after brick from long range and missed 11 of their last 15 shots. It was a shocking collapse in a game that had been going well for the Wizards.

By beating the Wizards in Game 5, the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead which historically means they have nearly an 83 percent chance of winning the series. Those aren't good odds for the Wizards, who can look at one area of the court to blame.

The Wizards made only five threes on 26 attempts. The Raptors, conversely, went 11-for-25 (44%) from the perimeter. The Wizards' five threes were their fewest in a game since Jan. 12.

The Wizards have now lost seven straight posteason games on the road.

DeRozan was a killer: As has been the case this entire series, DeMar DeRozan led the charge for Toronto. The perennial All-Star came out on fire with 20 points in the first half alone.

This time, it wasn't just free throws. He was 4-for-4 at the half, but 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Usually, threes aren't his game.

DeRozan kept it up in the second half to score 32 points on 12-of-24 from the field. That's a pretty efficient night.

Otto looked a bit hurt: Otto Porter, who was held to nine points and four rebounds, didn't appear to be moving very well. He was running around with a limp, which suggests his right lower leg strain is still bothering him.

Head coach Scott Brooks said last week that Porter is 100 percent, but that doesn't seem like the case. Perhaps there was some sort of setback in the time since. Porter, however, is such a smart player and such a good shooter that he can still make the most of his time on the court.

Solid start: The Wizards aren't used to playing well in the first quarter this series. They entered Game 5 with an average deficit of -7.2 points in the first quarter. In this game, however, they led by one point after one.

That was thanks to a buzzer-beater by John Wall (26 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). Ian Mahinmi got the offensive rebound and it set up Wall for a last-second shot. He got to one of his spots and sent it in:

It was just the second time in five games this series that the Wizards have been leading after one. The other time was Game 3, when the Wizards beat the Raptors handily to earn their first win.

The Wizards, though, couldn't finish. They also couldn't protect the ball. At least Wall couldn't, as he committed seven turnovers, one short of his playoff career-high.

Backup PGs: The Raptors again played without point guard Fred VanVleet, their best bench player and a guy who is arguably one of the best backup point guards in basketball. The loss has been evident for the most part, despite his replacement Delon Wright doing a solid job, including with 18 points in Game 5.

On Wednesday, Washington's backup point guard also shined. Despite not playing a single game during the regular season, Ty Lawson continues to make smart plays and create scoring opportunities for others.

He had four assists in this game and made one of the best plays of the night. Check out this move he put on to set up Ian Mahinmi:

And this dude was playing in China like two weeks ago? If he keeps this up, there will be an easy case to make that the Wizards should re-sign him for next season.

Clearly, they want Tomas Satoransky to play more off the ball and the coaching staff hasn't gained full trust in him. Lawson and Satoransky could make a solid reserve backcourt if they have some time to develop some chemistry.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors are back at it on Friday night in Washington for Game 6. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WALL HAS REACHED PEAK FORM AMAZINGLY QUICK

WALL IS BOYCOTTING DRAKE'S MUSIC DURING SERIES

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS