Raptors 99, Wizards 92

No sense sugar-coating it: this was a dud. A win’s a win, unless you’re a Draft-obsessed fan and a win’s a loss, but this was not an inspiring effort from the Raptors against a Wizards team without its starting power forward and center. There were defensive lapses all over the place, there were some very, uh, strange offensive possessions throughout, and Toronto let Washington back in the game in the fourth quarter when a stop or a bucket here or there would have put it out of reach.

Talking about the absence of energy in the building in the fourth quarter, Jack Armstrong hilariously said it was “one of those days you don’t want to get out of your pajamas.” I think this can be said for the players, too. It’s been a grueling season with a ridiculous schedule and it’s tough to get amped to play Washington on a Sunday on the first day of April. I’m not going to kill Toronto for this because it’s actually been remarkable how few of these less-than-entertaining games there have been this season. The opponents are almost always more talented, but the Raptors have been competitive way, way more often than not.

It’s Dwane Casey’s job from now on to try to get these guys to play with the same effort and focus they did earlier in the season — in his halftime interview, he said the team’s defensive concentration had “gone the way of the buffalo.” Curious to see if there’s an improvement against the Bobcats on Tuesday. If you’re wondering, Charlotte is 7-43.

Some notes:

  • The Wizards’ offense looked a mess. This shouldn’t be surprising if you’ve watched them this year. With Nene and Trevor Booker both out with plantar fasciitis, it was a bunch of young guys plus Brian Cook, Roger Mason and Cartier Martin running around, basically.
  • Not really sure how a lineup of Shelvin Mack, Mason, Martin, Jan Vesely and Cook is supposed to score points. That group played together in the second quarter.
  • Cook is my favorite NBA player. I love nothing more than to watch him jog up and down the floor and shoot jumpers. It’s a treat when he puts the ball on the floor, too. He doesn’t make me completely lose my mind and want to throw things at my TV at all. Nope. Not one bit. Promise.
  • Andrea Bargnani had 18 points on 6-for-15 shooting, plus eight rebounds. Yay, eight rebounds! But he could have done lots more. He was 2-for-10 after the first quarter and, sorry Wizards, but I’m not giving the defense credit here. Bargnani is more than capable of shredding them.
  • John Wall had a case of the Bargnanis himself. He had no trouble getting in the lane, but he didn’t appear interested in taking over the game. A modest 13 points and 11 assists for Wall, who made Kevin Seraphin look good by continually setting him up for dunks. No reason he couldn’t have looked for his offense more, however.
  • Amir Johnson had two big plays down the stretch when Washington was in striking distance: a screen for DeMar DeRozan and a putback dunk.
  • Credit DeRozan for repeatedly attacking the basket. He isn’t exactly going to get a ton of love from the national media for putting his body on the line in a game like this. I’d almost forgive him for settling for jumpers at this point in the season, but he got to the line nine times and took a couple of bumps. Good for him. It’s starting to feel like he’s been around for quite a while, so it’s easy to forget he’s still 23 and the organization still wants him to get stronger in the off-season so he can absorb more contact and be more physical defensively.
  • Vesely had the play of the game.
  • Ben Uzoh dunked, too!
  • This game was ugly, but I’m still enjoying the Alan Anderson experience. Aren’t you?

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