Washington Wizards 78 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 Toronto Raptors
Amir Johnson, PF 35 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +6

Amir Johnson continues to be the most reliable player on this team, game in and game out. He may have the slowest release in the league on his jump shot, but he drilled two of the three that Washington let him wind up for tonight. If Amir can develop the kind of interior passing game he had with Ed Davis with Jonas Valanciunas, I promise never to miss another Raptor’s game ever again.

Rudy Gay, SF 26 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | +7

I know that Rudy had some points tonight, but all that stands out in my mind are the turnovers. He had the opportunity to hit Ross with a fastbreak pass for an uncontested dunk with 6 minutes left in the 2nd. Instead he kept the ball, slowly dribbled in to traffic and turned the ball over. Gay looks open to the concept of passing the ball instead of constantly looking for his shot, he just doesn’t look like he really knows how to go about doing it.

Jonas Valanciunas, C 41 MIN | 4-7 FG | 16-18 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 24 PTS | +17

Jonas Valanciunas is the Raptors right now, and the announcers spent the entire first ten minutes of television coverage talking about him exclusively. Jonas was kind enough to validate Leo Rautin’s enthusiasm with the best individual performance on the floor tonight.
His excitability on defense still has him biting on his man’s second move and giving up the basket, but the patience to keep his feet and maintain position will come in time. In the meantime, that excitability and energy on offense is explosive, and Valanciunas is showing what an efficient weapon a centre who can actually hit free throws can be.

Kyle Lowry, PG 37 MIN | 2-8 FG | 4-6 FT | 8 REB | 13 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +13

Dear Kyle Lowry,
You are a starting-caliber NBA point guard. I watched you play games for the Rockets in the first half of last year where you threatened to be an all-star. I watched you play the first week of this season as an unquestioned all-star. I know you’ve often been on the court ever since, and you were even there for a couple of stretches tonight, but I’m still yet to see that Kyle Lowry on a game-to-game basis. Please advise as to current address, as I would like to be a fan.

DeMar DeRozan, SG 37 MIN | 11-21 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | +20

With the weight of the team off of his shoulders, DeMar is really coming in to his own as a quality contributor. His willingness to drive to the rim continues to reap rewards on the free throw line. DeMar’s mid-range game was solid tonight, as it often is. But there continues to be a collective wince whenever he puts one up from 3. I encourage you to read this fantastic piece by Dylan Murphy, and think about DeMar’s aggressive leg kick on his 3 point shot. Fixing that could make him an elite player.

Quincy Acy, SF 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -4

I was concerned when Quincy picked up a foul with a moving screen after checking in to the game, but before time had even started. After he fought hard for an offensive rebound and then sunk the put-back, I was positive that he was Reggie Evans. After all, he is wearing a pretty convincing Reggie Evans costume. I continued to think so until Acy hit a 19-foot jump shot in the second quarter. Then he hit another one proving that he was, in fact, definitely not Reggie Evans.

Landry Fields, SF 17 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +12

I can appreciate how difficult it has to be to come off the bench after not playing in the entire first half and suddenly start guarding someone who has been playing all game. Fields has accepted his role on the team this year, stayed in his lane and worked hard to meet his responsibilities. It’s an often unappreciated role, and Fields quietly went about doing it well against the Wiz’, as he usually does. Landry seems to score at least one basket every game off a really intelligent cut to the basket, and Valanciunas found him for one with time winding down in a close game tonight.

Sebastian Telfair, PG 11 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -3

Telfair posted another chapter in the long-standing Raptor’s tradition of incredibly inefficient back-up point guard performances. There have been good nights for Telfair since he got here. Tonight was not one of them.

Alan Anderson, SG 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8

Keeps on chuckin’. Gunning his way to a contract next year on a team that doesn’t value shot selection.

Terrence Ross, SG 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -10

Not a lot of minutes tonight for Ross. While Valanciunas is showing his readiness and improvement now, Casey and the coaching staff are likely already looking to planning their summer league around the development of Ross’ promising game.

Dwane Casey

It has to be frustrating to motivate your guys for a game that they know doesn’t matter. Casey is getting the best out of his young players though, and even managed to squeeze a sporadic stretch of solid play out of Kyle Lowry. It’s next to impossible to judge a coach for a defensive scheme that half of the guys on the court aren’t even willing to play. In tonight’s battle of who wants is less, Casey had his team play less apathetic than the Wizard’s they duelled against.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors came out in this game willing to make passes. From what I saw, it was because ball stoppers like Rudy Gay weren’t taking the game so seriously. The result was a lot of very quick, very easy quality looks and layups. Imagine that.
  2. Late season lottery-team matchups, where rebounding and transition defense are always optional. The Raptors second unit is officially done pretending to play defense for the season, as they’ve completely abandoned defending the 3-point line. Let it be known, if you are willing to stand behind the 3 point line against this squad, they are willing to let you shoot. REALLY glad you didn’t play tonight, Bradley Beal.
  3. Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas are tireless. They are either running a constantly resetting series of high picks, screens and pin-downs or, more recently, isolation low post sets for Valanciunas. The result has not been elite team scoring on the offensive end. However, tonight was another example of how and where results may likely be seen next year. Nene was exhausted by the mid-way point of the 3rd quarter trying to follow the Raptors around in their busy part of the offence. So when Jonas and Johnson work hard on the offensive glass, they’re finding success against opposing bigs who are just trying to catch their breath. This also takes the 4th quarter legs away from opposing bigs trying to guard the rim against the Rap’s penetrating wing players. There is an advantage to having two players with size, athleticism and a whole lot of hustle play together, and what we saw tonight is hopefully a sign of things to see more regularly next season.
  4. When Quincy Acy was sent down to the D-League, it was unclear if he would amount to more than the all-time leader in technical fouls per minutes played. But from the improvement we saw tonight, it seems clear that he seized the opportunity for minutes and development. Acy showed much better polish and, perhaps more importantly, much more confidence in his game. Great use of the D-League here, and kudos to Acy for embracing it as an opportunity instead of a punishment and growing as a result. Loved what he brought tonight.
  5. It’s great to see Valanciunas getting so many looks in the post. That experience is going to be key moving forward. DeMar has been much better against single-man coverage out of isolation in recent weeks as well, with Rudy Gay pulling away the double teams that had been challenging his shots. But with presumably the entire starting lineup returning for next season, it’s disappointing to see Lowry and Gay relatively uninterested in developing sets of their own and something resembling a quality team offensive system. Oh well, here’s to training camp!
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