WASHINGTON — What a long, strange trip that was. The Raptors had a real Jekyll and Hyde type of evening against the Wizards on Saturday, playing ridiculously well in the first half, and extremely poorly – letting many old problems resurface – in the second half. But in the end, the Raptors beat a really solid, rested Wizards team on the road, showed some resiliency and delivered a statement win. They sure like to make things interesting though. “We’re a drama team,” was the take from Greivis Vasquez and it wasn’t that long ago that DeMar DeRozan labelled the Raptors a soap opera team that loves to entertain.
- Sure, they blew a huge lead, again, but Dwane Casey gave them a pass because they were playing for the fourth time in five nights in four different cities and that’s a totally valid point. The only issue here is they need to analyze why they blow leads so frequently (even if they usually come back and win in the end) in order to get better and not let it happen as much. Kyle Lowry was asked if it is difficult to balance going into a bit of a “prevent mode” instead of keeping on the accelerator when leads balloon that high.
“I think it’s definitely happens a lot,” Lowry replied. “We have to learn to fight through it and keep playing fast and keep playing and pushing the tempo.”
- The trick is doing that while still staying under control. Lowry, Lou Williams and others were guilty of forcing a lot of bad shots, far too early in the shot clock, which, along with no defensive resistance on penetration, allowed Washington to mount its furious rally. Lowry and Williams aren’t going to change, they are aggressive and shoot first and ask questions later. It works for them. They also hit huge shots and won the game for the Raptors, so you have to take the good with the bad, but a little bit more patience with large leads would help.
- Amir Johnson is really playing well. He had a fantastic January, averaging 11 points and six rebounds, playing great defence and shooting 60% from the field. Over the past five games, he has shot 72% from the floor. He even hit a road three-pointer, his second of the season. Patrick Patterson has played well beside him and said “we are the same person” meaning they try to do the same things defensively and it works.
- Casey called DeRozan “The Little O,” saying let’s not get carried away and compare him to the Big O, Oscar Robertson, but still appreciate his all-around game right now. He had a poor shooting night, but DeRozan still led the team in rebounds and assists and got to the free throw line nine times.
- This was the first time in franchise history that the Raptors won back-to-back overtime games on consecutive nights. They just keep setting new marks. They basically won the Atlantic Division by surviving against the Nets and doubled their lead against Washington and won the season series. Statement delivered.
- There might not be another team in the league that backs the Seattle Seahawks as much as the Raptors. There is no question who that room was rooting for on Super Bowl Sunday. Casey is neighbours with Seahawks punter Jon Ryan (a Canadian) and is friends with Pete Carroll. Casey has spent time at Seahawks training camp and wears the team colours often. TSN.ca’s Josh Lewenberg conducted an informal poll and every Raptor that had a rooting interest but one, Tyler Hansbrough, backed the Seahawks.