The Toronto Raptors gave the Washington Wizards the business last night.
Armed with a strong rebounding game and a relentless interior attack, Toronto completely exploited Washington inside the paint.
The box score reads the Raps scored a mere 32 points in the paint but don’t let that fool you.
Jonas Valanciunas had a statement game. His production alone on this night warranted him getting more touches not only in the contest but possibly for the remainder of the season.
[Also read Reaction: Wizards 78, Raptors 88]
He isn’t always the most aesthetic looking player, but he gets the job done. According to Synergy Sports, the big man came into last night’s game converting 49.4 percent of his shots in post up situations.
Obviously, context is important in this setting. He doesn’t necessarily score that well against every opposing big man, but last night was one of those nights. Valanciunas owned Emeka Okafor and Nene.
He had a few post ups as well as a couple of drives — always to his right! — that allowed him to score.
But JV’s biggest contribution last night on offense was his toughness. Every time he was given an open shot in the paint, he pump faked himself (took him a few seconds to realize how open he was) and then used the landscape at his disposal to attack the basket.
Routinely he was met with resistance, but he kept drawing whistles. His aggressive and physical play resulted in a 16-of-18 free throw shooting night.
Valanciunas’ scoring in the half-court helped the Raptors overcome a sloppy game. The majority of their 15 turnovers on this night were unforced. On a few occasions, players tried threading the needle with passes and instead coughed up the ball.
DeMar DeRozan was on his game in this contest. Dwane Casey’s regular sets were favorable for Toronto’s starting 2-guard on this evening.
One of the Raptors’ pet plays has DeRozan curling off a screen on the left side of the floor for an open jumper. If the big man defending the action on DeRozan steps out to contest his jumper, the shooting guard can essentially drive past him and get into the paint.
DeMar mixed up his game by attacking the paint and nailing his midrange jumpers. According to Hoopdata, DeRozan converted 6-of-12 shots from 16-to-23 feet against the Wizards. He also got himself to the basket and into the paint where he put pressure on Washington.
His final tall by night’s end was 25 points.
Valanciunas and DeRozan did a great job of taking whatever Washington offered them in this contest. But it can also be said that Toronto removed whatever available options the Wiz had, especially in the second half.
Indeed, Casey’s group held the Wizards to 28 points on 7-for-35 shooting from the floor in the final two quarters of the game. They kept John Wall out on the perimeter and the few times he wandered into the paint, he was met with resistance.
He managed 12 points in the second half, but was 3-for-11 from the field.
With the team hitting the road for their three next games, winning at home prior to leaving the friendly confines of Toronto is always a good thing.