Toronto Raptors defeat Washington Wizards, 109-107, at Verizon Center

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 5, 2009

There were several reasons why the Washington Wizards had no business defeating the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

They sleepwalked through the first period, falling behind by 15 points before realizing that they were in an actual competition. They shot 36.8 percent for the game, with starters Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood struggling to hit much of anything the whole night.

And, instead of attacking a team that has no interior defense presence, the Wizards settled for a season-high 29 three-point attempts, missing 19.

The Wizards were able to dance with destruction for four quarters before their poor play and defensive lapses eventually caught up to them in overtime, as they lost, 109-107, before a sellout crowd at Verizon Center. Hedo Turkoglu, the Raptors' prized free agent signing last summer, buried the winning fadeaway jumper over Butler with 8.1 seconds left.

Gilbert Arenas scored a season-high 34 points, including a three-pointer with 30.7 seconds left to tie score at 107, but he missed a layup that could've forced another overtime. Andray Blatche then missed two feeble putback attempts as time expired.

"That was a typical regular season game of non-playoff teams," Coach Flip Saunders said afterward, offering his most scathing criticism of his team this season. "I'm more disappointed in this game than any game we've had. Just because you're about to get that next step and that next step usually means being more disciplined. Not being complacent, not be satisfied. We started the game like it was going to be one of those games."

The Wizards (7-11) proved last week that they have some trouble handling prosperity, when they won two games in a row for the first time this season, then lost by 16 at home against Charlotte. They responded with close wins against Toronto and Milwaukee, but they still have not won three consecutive games since April 2008.

The Wizards took a 102-101 lead when Butler found Jamison in the corner for a three-pointer, but the Raptors scored the next six points and appeared to be in control of the game, until the Wizards got two free throws from Butler and Earl Boykins dished to Arenas for his long three-pointer. As he ran down the court, Arenas beat his right fist against his chest.

On the Raptors' next possession, point guard José Calderón dribbled around and tried to feed Andrea Bargnani, but the ball rolled out of Bargnani's hands and Butler kicked it out bounds, setting up the final shot for Turkoglu, who missed a three-pointer at the end of regulation.

"Turkish Jordan," Butler said afterward. "It was tough shot. I tried to make him take a difficult shot and that's exactly what happened."

Since most of his teammates were unable to get much going offensively, Arenas carried the load. With his team trailing by two in the final minute of regulation, Arenas answered with a pull-up jumper to tie the score at 96. He perhaps had the easiest shot of the night on the final possession of the game.

He said he contemplated going for the win but instead drove around Toronto's Jarrett Jack for an open layup. "Just one of them dumb moves that I tried to do where I thought the defender was going to actually jump. Then he pulled the chair on me," Arenas said. "I was going to try to use the contact to push me back to the rim, but he didn't jump and I was off-balanced shooting the layup. I just tried to outthink him, but he [outthought] me."

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