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Raptors bring edge to this matchup that Wizards lack

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Raptors bring edge to this matchup that Wizards lack

If there's anger brewing beneath the surface for the Wizards, who are four games under .500 for the first time this season, it's not showing. For the first time, however, John Wall didn't have anything to say following Friday's 97-88 loss to the Toronto Raptors at Verizon Center.

That probably was coincidental because the star point guard, who had seven turnovers for the second game in a row, had to get treatment for injuries and ailments that he has played with since early November. The Wizards had to hop a plane and head to Orlando where they'll face the Magic on Saturday. And what more could he say that hadn't already been said anyway? DeMar DeRozan spoke volumes for Toronto.

"I wouldn't necessarily say it's a rivalry," said DeRozan, who was rattled in their playoff first-round matchup swept by the Wizards in four games. "I was here during the playoffs and that was a bad feeling to get swept. Coming back here, just playing against them gives you that same reminder of what happened."

While the first two meetings were close, won 84-82 and 94-91, this was the most unattractive of the three as both teams combined for 42 turnovers. DeRozan and his backcourt mate, point guard Kyle Lowry, combined to score 20 each on 6 of 9 shooting in a decisive fourth quarter.

That drops the Wizards (15-19) to 8-11 at home and desperate to find answers as the season creeps toward the mid-point. DeRozan's previous season-high was 34 points set against the Wizards. He topped that with 35.

RELATED: Wizards sputter in another loss to Raptors 97-88: Five takeaways

The Wizards went from scoring 115 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers, to taking a 10-point lead in the first quarter against the Raptors to struggling with a 14-point third quarter that allowed them to come back. The result is a three-game losing streak after being at the cusp of getting over .500 for the first time since mid-November. 

"We take shortcuts. We try to take easy ways out. We don't make hustle plays," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "The last three games, we're not committed for 48 minutes. ... We play good defense and a shot goes up and we just stand and (they) pick up a loose ball and put it in. Those things happen too often."

That moment that Wittman is likely referring to is when James Johnson, not noted as a scorer, had his shot blocked by Marcin Gortat, collected his own loose ball and got the putback without a fight for a 60-57 lead. That was part of a 13-4 run to enter the fourth with a double-digit lead. Johnson barely touched the floor in the playoff series but had eight points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes.

The pace that Wall had the Wizards with in the first quarter, an 8-0 edge in fast-break points, evaporated. 

"We got out and ran in the first quarter which we wanted to do against this team. The last two (games vs. Toronto), we played at their pace and that's not good for us," said Wizards shooting guard Garrett Temple. "For whatever reason the pace dropped off. They started running plays to get switches on our guards. They were taking advantages of some mismatches. They scored 35 buckets on 11 assists. At the end of the day, it's about guarding one-on-one."

Jared Dudley wasn't with the Wizards last season when they shocked the Raptors in the playoffs even though they had home-court advantage. But he senses a loss of confidence in how his team plays. That energy that the Raptors showed is absent unless Wall is playing his best and leading the charge. Lowry wasn't deterred when he opened 0-for-4 and had four turnovers in the first quarter. He ended with 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals. He never stopped grinding even as Gortat blocked him twice at the rim. 

"I think when you're bored with the process, sometimes it's easy to take shortcuts. You know you haven't shot the ball in a while, you want to come get your shot up," Dudley said. "I'm someone where it doesn't matter if I get 10 shots or two shots. It's making the right play at the right time and hoping that the system comes back to you."

The Wizards have made late-season runs for the last two years and ended up with No. 5 seeds in the postseason. They're 8-1 in this first-round games, upsetting the Chicago Bulls and then Raptors. 

But the East is deeper and the field more crowded. Making the playoffs will be more difficult and their prospects of getting one of the top four seeds to get home-court advantage in the first round are dwindling.  Eight other teams have between 15-19 losses.

"I don't think we're in panic mode," Temple said. "We got to defend. We got to knock down shots and play basketball that we're capable of playing to get back in the playoff picture. Two years ago we made the playoffs, at the end of January we finally got over that hump of getting over the .500 mark. There's still light at the end of the tunnel."

MORE WIZARDS: NBA 'squashed' John Wall's wager with Wizards assistant

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Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

Swaggy Picasso's Sole Talk had the Wizards taking notice opening night

The connection between athletes and their fans is a powerful thing in sports. The NBA is one of the trendiest, fashion-forward leagues in the world. From shoe design to overall wardrobe to eccentric personalities...the Association has it all on display for fans across the globe to consume. 

Lloyd Ferguson, a fan himself and native of Silver Spring, Md., is bursting onto the customized sneakers scene as an up-and-coming artist. 

His Instagram (@SwaggyPicasso) serves as his personal laboratory and a platform to share his creations. 

Prior to the start of Thursday night's Wizards-Heat game, NBC Sports Washington invited Ferguson to Capital One Arena for what would become a memorable night for the 23-year-old. 

Chris Miller and Drew Gooden featured Swaggy Picasso on the pregame show for an interview and sneaker showcase.

"The inside of my body was jiggling and moving. I was like 'I gotta keep composed and stay cool. You're on national televison, Lloyd.'" 

You would have never known it. 

Ferguson, who was a basketball player himself locally, grew up a Wizards and D.C. sports fan all around. 

Little did he know several Wizards would take notice of his artwork. 

Kelly Oubre, Devin Robinson and John Wall - each known for their wardrobes and respective styles - stopped by to take a peek at Ferguson's kicks. 

"Their reactions to my art was all I needed, honestly. They see the potential and growth. It's very overwhelming." 

It was a groundbreaking night for a young talent with lofty dreams and aspirations. 

Swaggy Picasso has no plans of stopping anytime soon. 

"I've been busting out these shoes day and night. I don't sleep. My desire to paint shoes is ridiculous." 

 

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Wizards vs. Raptors: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Raptors: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards take to the court Saturday night looking for their first win of the season against the Toronto Raptors. 

In their first game of the season the Wizards laid an egg after the Miami Heat were missing three rotation players on the second end of a back-to-back. Similar problems emerged even with new offseason additions Jeff Green and Austin Rivers having stellar debuts. Dwight Howard did not play in the contest, still dealing with a butt injury. 

Now, the Wizards will go up against one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, the Raptors. They also acquired a former All-Star in Kwahi Leonard this offseason, trading away DeMar DeRozan. Besides the switch, this is pretty much the same squad that knocked the Wizards out of the First Round of the playoffs last season.

On Saturday the Raptors will be coming off a back-to-back after hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday night. Once again, another big opportunity for the Wizards against an Eastern Conference foe early in the season.

The Wizards-Raptors will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors, 2018 NBA regular season Game 2
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Raptors will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Raptors on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS TV SCHEDULE
6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)
7:00 PM: Toronto Raptors @ Wizards (LIVE)
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
10:30 PM: Redskins GameDay: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (questionable)
Raptors: Delon Wright (day-to-day), OG Anunoby (probable)

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS PLAYERS TO WATCH

John Wall, Wizards: After speculation on if Wall would return to his peak form, he showed out on Thursday night. With 26 points, nine assists, and four blocks, the point guard was all around the court for the Wizards. 

Otto Porter Jr./ Jeff Green, Wizards: Covering Leonard is going to be a tall task. It is anticipated that the taller Otto Porter Jr. and Jeff Green to be the duo that will be covering the lengthy guard.  Neither guy are going to light-up the stat sheet on the offensive end, but after a nice showing by Green on Thursday look for them to split time defensively. 

Khawi Leonard: Leonard had 24 points and 12 rebounds in his debut with the Raptors, picking up right where he left off before his injury. Will a back-to-back affect the star that hasn't played consistently since 2016? 

WIZARDS vs. RAPTORS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 95 games
Regular Season Record: Raptors lead 48-37
Postseason Record: Wizards lead 6-4
Last Meeting: Raptors won 102-92
Last 10: Raptors lead 6-4

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