TORONTO — He could excuse the errors of aggressiveness and forgive fatigue-fueled lapses, because if Coach Randy Wittman could count on anything from the Washington Wizards during his honeymoon period since replacing Flip Saunders, it was that they were going to give him an honest effort on both ends of the floor.
But as the Toronto Raptors pummeled the Wizards, 106-89, on Friday night at Air Canada Centre, Wittman watched his team revert back to being the same passive, sometimes selfish unit that hastened his predecessor’s dismissal.
Toronto set a franchise record for rebounds in a game, snaring 61 compared to 37 for the Wizards; had 23 offensive rebounds, which led to 28 second-chance points; and its point guard, Jose Calderon, had 17 assists compared to 13 for the Wizards.
“They outplayed is in every phase of the game. Disappointing, coming in here after we’ve been playing, I think, at a pretty good, high level. But tonight wasn’t it,” Wittman said of the Raptors. “We didn’t have that same effort that we’ve had and it showed. We fell back into some bad habits, both offensively and defensively. Ball didn’t move as it had. We’ve got to do a better job of that.”
After two encouraging games against Orlando and Chicago, the Wizards were pushed, shoved and tossed around by an opponent that was missing its best player and was handled easily when the teams met in Washington last month.
“We can’t win no game like that, especially on the road,” John Wall said. “They remember all that and how we beat them back home. They was coming back to get revenge and they definitely earned” it.
“I didn’t anticipate this kind of effort,” JaVale McGee said after scoring eight points with six rebounds in just 18 minutes. “But we’ve got to get better and we are getting better. We can’t fault ourselves for one game.”
The Wizards claimed their first win of the season against the Raptors last month and were well within range of another in the third period when John Wall blocked an Aaron Gray layup attempt, grabbed the rebound and sprinted up the floor. Before Wall could attempt a layup, Raptors reserve Ed Davis grabbed him by the collar and threw him to the ground, picking up a flagrant foul.
Wall missed both free throws, but made a pull-up jumper to bring the Wizards with 60-59 and forced Raptors Coach Dwane Casey to call a timeout with 7 minutes 6 seconds left in the period. The Raptors (8-16) outscored the Wizards 44-23 over the next 17 minutes, taking a 104-82 lead when Davis made a layup.
Wall had 15 points and four assists, but the Raptors made him earn his most of his points, delivering a few body blows, including one first-half collision with Amir Johnson that had him face down kicking his feet against the ground.
“I took some tough falls,” Wall said. “You not supposed to give up no easy baskets. They gave hard fouls. They asked, ‘Was you okay?’ You got to let them know, you can’t come in easy . . . but they got what they wanted whenever they wanted.”
A week after facing Kevin McHale, the man who fired him and replaced him as coach in Minnesota, Wittman got Casey, the man he replaced for his previous coaching job with the Timberwolves. He has lost those two games by a combined 44 points.
The Raptors were 1-9 without Andrea Bargnani this season and had lost their previous two games to Atlanta and Boston by a combined 59 points.
With Bargnani sidelined, reserves Johnson and Linas Kleiza more than picked up the slack. Johnson had 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. Kleiza had 15 points and connected on his three three-point attempts. Leandro Barbosa led the Raptors with 19 points as Toronto’s bench scored 63 points.
“They came out like a little wounded dog,” Wittman said. “They’ve gone through some tough times and they had it in their mind that they were going to be the aggressors and they were.”
The Wizards, however, regressed into the team they have been for most of the season — unable to rebound, shoot or share. They shot just 37.9 percent and had just eight assists through three quarters. Nick Young led the Wizards with 21 points, but missed 10 of his 17 field goal attempts. Trevor Booker had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Jordan Crawford had 11 points.
“We can’t let games like this slip by I just hope we didn’t underestimate them,” Young said. “They jumped out on us. They really killed us in all aspects. Good thing, we got them coming in Monday. We got to remember what they did to us.”