Wizards vs. Raptors: Washington blows big lead, survives in OT to end four-game skid, 111-108
By Gene Wang,
Three nights removed from a lopsided loss to Toronto, the Washington Wizards gained a measure of redemption against their Canadian opponent by clinging to a 111-108 overtime victory on Monday despite relinquishing a comfortable lead in the second half before 14,687 at Verizon Center.
Washington ended a four-game slide that most recently included consecutive losses by a combined 43 points, but the team couldn’t exhale in this one until Raptors guard Jose Calderon failed on a desperation heave as time expired. The miss concluded a triumph in which the Wizards got exceptional play from the starting back court of John Wall and Nick Young, who combined for 60 points.
Playing with an aggression throughout, Wall finished with game highs of 31 points and seven assists and added a pair of blocks in overtime. He also had five rebounds and went 11 for 14 from the free throw line.
Young, meantime, scored a season-high 29 points and had five rebounds, none more important than securing teammate Trevor Booker’s missed foul shot with 6.7 seconds left in overtime. Booker had made his first attempt to give Washington a 110-108 lead.
Raptors guard Jerryd Bayless (team-high 30 points) fouled Young while he dribbled from the left baseline to the top of the three-point arc trying to run out the clock. Young made the second of his two foul shots for the final margin.
Booker added 19 points, and the Wizards (5-20) won for the third time in eight games under Coach Randy Wittman, who took over for fired Flip Saunders on Jan. 24. This victory was the first under Wittman not against Charlotte, which owns a league-worst 3-21 record.
“A win is a win right now, and we are happy,” Wittman said. “It doesn’t matter what these last two games are. Like I tell the guys, the past is past. Those two games are behind us. We can’t do anything about them. All we can do is look forward.”
The Wizards struck first in overtime on reserve guard Jordan Crawford’s basket for a 107-105 lead. Linas Kleiza (30 points) made 1 of 2 free throws before Young countered with two foul shots, giving Washington a 109-106 lead with 1 minute 6 seconds left.
Shortly before Young’s foul shots, Wall twice blocked forward-center Amir Johnson, who scored 18 points in the Raptors’ 106-89 win at Air Canada Center on Friday. Johnson had just six points on Monday, missing 6 of 7 shots, but he did make two foul shots with 27 seconds left to draw Toronto (8-18) within a point, setting up the dramatic finish.
“John Wall was everywhere on defense,” Young said. “I hyped him up today. I got everybody hyped, and they showed it tonight. They played great. That’s our word, ‘Be great.’ ”
The drama began to unfold early in the fourth quarter when Bayless swished a three-pointer from the left corner to whittle what had been an 18-point deficit to 86-79 with just less than nine minutes remaining. But after Wittman immediately called a timeout, Washington responded with Booker’s basket and a pair of Young free throws.
The Raptors, though, were far from done. Bayless made sure of that by making a pair of three-pointers around two foul shots from DeMar DeRozan (15 points), and Toronto climbed to 96-93 with 3:40 to play.
Wall made two free throws on the other end, but Bayless swished another three-pointer from the top of the arc to draw Toronto to 98-86 with 2:27 to go. Young missed a mid-range jumper that would have made it a two-possession game again, and the Raptors tied it when Kleiza banked in a 22-footer with 0.7 of a second left on the shot clock.
Booker made two foul shots with 1:30 remaining in regulation, and Bayless missed for Toronto. But Johnson collected the rebound for the Raptors, who called timeout with 1:06 to play. Kleiza’s three-pointer then gave Toronto its first lead, 101-100, since early in the first quarter.
Wall’s scoop shot made it 102-101 with 44 seconds left, but Bayless put Toronto back in front with two foul shots. Wall answered by drawing a foul on Bayless while getting a one-handed floater to drop, and following his missed free throw, the Wizards had a one-point lead.
The margin grew to 105-103 with 17 seconds left when Crawford made 1 of 2 foul shots. The Raptors called timeout, and Johnson forced overtime by grabbing an offensive rebound and dunking to extend a game in which Washington led by double figures most of the way.
“We came out and played hard and fought hard,” Wall said. “Had a big lead, and they came back. We just stuck with it as a team.”