The Wizards have won five consecutive games against Eastern Conference opponents and with a win against the Toronto Raptors, Washington could match the longest streak since winning six straight at the end of the 2011-12 season.
But that is a heady task against the red-hot Raptors, who have won four in a row and have the conference’s second-best road record at 9-7. Toronto has won nine of 12 since dealing Baltimore native Rudy Gay to Sacramento in a deal that yielded former Maryland star Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Chuck Hayes and Patrick Patterson.
“Sometimes that happens like that,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “Rudy Gay, being the good player that he is, you make a trade like that it loosens up a team. Guys are playing more freely. Guys are playing with a little bit more responsibility that they had before and I think that’s what we’re seeing. It’s a well-rounded team and their playing as good as anybody in the league right now. They’re playing good. we’re going to play one of our better games to come out of it.”
The trade has created more opportunities for second-year forward Terrance Ross, a former Montrose Christian standout. Ross scored 18 points in the Raptors’ 95-82 win on Wednesday over the Indiana Pacers. Point guard Kyle Lowry had a season-high 14 assists in the win over Indiana.
“They been like crazy,” Nene said of the Raptors. “You need to pay a lot of attention. They have confidence now. For sure, it’s going to be a tough game.”
The Wizards lost, 96-88, to Toronto when the teams met at Air Canada Centre on Nov. 22 but the game turnaround the season for John Wall. After slumping through the first few weeks, Wall scored a season-high 37 points in the loss and personally outscored the Raptors, 18-15, in the third quarter to help the Wizards rally from a 13-point halftime deficit to take a 68-64 lead.
“I made shots early and I felt a lot comfortable and I feel anybody does when they shots early and they get into a rhythm,” Wall said. “In the third quarter, I feel like I was being aggressive and I was making shots and they kept falling and falling and that was one of the best quarters I’ve had in a while. So I just try to stay aggressive and taking open shots that they gave me, and I was able to knock down my jump shot and get into transition. They had like five or six turnovers and the ball just really came to me and I had a one-on-one situation with a guard.”
Wall embarrassed Lowry on one play in the second half of that game, when he dribbled past Lowry so quickly that Lowry lost his shoe backpedaling. After Wall hit a three-pointer to bring the Wizards within 90-88 late in the game, Gay actually made a huge jumper on the other end and closed the game out with four free throws.
“They still got basically the same team, but they have more movement, they are trusting each other more,” Wall said. “They’re moving the ball and playing at a high level.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WFED-1500).
Here’s some reading to help you get ready for the game: