Turning back the clock and playing the type of grind-it-out defense that the Wizards are known for, they almost ended their three-game losing streak Saturday. But John Wall misfired on two foul shots with five seconds remaining and allowed the Toronto Raptors to set up a final play that resulted in Cory Joseph hitting the game-winner at the buzzer at Verizon Center, 84-82.
It wasn't just that the Wizards (6-8) lost the game. It's how they lost as they had every opportunity to put Toronto away with an 80-72 lead with 4:04 left. Wall had a miserable game shooting, 6 of 25 for 18 points and just five assists.
The Wizards only shot 33.3% in the first half, making 15 of 45 shots, but they got to the foul line eight more times, had eight fewer turnovers than the Raptors (11-6) and held them to 39 first-half points.
Jared Dudley, making his first start at power forward for Kris Humphries, had seven points and four rebounds. Bradley Beal led the way with 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals and Marcin Gortat contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Kyle Lowry's three-pointer tied the score at 70 with 9:09 left, but the Wizards swallowed them up to compensate for stalled offense. But in the end, it was the Raptors Lowry led Toronto with 27 points and DeMar DeRozan 20. Joseph had 12 off the bench.
DeRozan took the inbound pass with three seconds left, drove into the paint and found Joseph spotting up in the corner.
- Gortat touched the ball early and often, and that's what the Wizards have to do to maximize the big man in the middle who was the only person in the trenches rebounding in the last game. Gortat hit his first four shots. His defensive rotations were Nene-like in helping stop penetration from DeRozan. Gortat stepped out to help on DeRozan in the corner until Otto Porter could recover. With him trapped, DeRozan threw an errant pass cross court. After along rebound, DeRozan got out in the open court to use a Euro-step to get to the rim but Gortat's block stopped him.
- Wall wasn't deterred by missing his first nine shots. He warmed up in the third quarter as he got his looks more in the flow of the offense as he made three consecutive jump shots. But just as important for the point guard was his determination on the defensive end. After Kelly Oubre's contested dunk popped out, DeRozan had a clear breakaway dunk. Wall sprinted from behind to make a legitimate contest -- and despite DeRozan having full extension at the time of Wall's leap -- to break up the play and send him to the foul line. DeRozan made 1 of 2 but this is the type of hustle that has been absent from almost everyone during the losing streak. Cory Joseph bowled Wall over on a drive attempt, and when the whistle didn't blow Wall claimed the loose ball on the floor for a timeout at 4:04. The 50-50 ball battle was won by Washington.
- Beal had 20 points on just nine shots. That's efficiency. He was getting to the line as he took eight free throws, his most of the season. If Beal is the best shooter/scorer on this team, there's no excuse for him having just two shot attempts in nine minutes of play in the fourth quarter and zero points.
- Bismack Biyombo is a defensive force in the middle, but the Wizards made the Raptors pay for the offensive liability being on the floor. They were able to double DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll with whoever was guarding Biyombo to slow down their offense. But Biyombo's presence prevented the Wizards from running away with it. It's not just his four blocks but he changed countless shots on dribble penetration in the paint. Biyombo had one of the best 0 point games in basketball, also grabbing a game-high 16 rebounds.
- Because the Wizards took care of the ball in the first half (five turnovers), they were able to lead 45-39 despite making only 15 field goals. They had 10 giveaways in the second half. In all, that's seven fewer than Toronto but down the stretch the mistakes were crippling. There was a shot-clock turnover with 2:39 left as they played hot potato with the ball and Beal gave it away to Joseph soon after.
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