Two awful teams, the 4-20 Washington Wizards and the 8-17 Toronto Raptors, met at MCI Center tonight and the Wizards got the win in overtime 111-108, led by John Wall, Nick Young and Trevor Booker. In true Wizards fashion, though, they had to make it look bad even after they'd made it look good and the victory was much tougher than it should have been. The Wizards have been involved in so many blowouts this season -- from the wrong end, of course -- that it is no surprise they don't know how to close games out.
Led by guards John Wall [31 points] and Nick Young [29 points] and forward Trevor Booker [19 points], the Washington Wizards were in the process of blowing out a bad and tired Toronto Raptors team that came into MCI Center off a loss to the Miami Heat last night. For most of the game the Wizards were clearly the better team, led by John Wall, who poured in the points with an impressive array of mid-range shots, layups and and foul shots. Nick Young hit a couple of three pointers and the Wizards were in control 57-42 at halftime. The start of the second half was more of the same and Washington led 79-61 with three minutes left in the third quarter. At that point, Wizards players apparently got bored with basketball and decided to spend the rest of their evening doing something else.
Jerryd Bayless and Leonard Kleiza started shooting and they hit everything, particularly from beyond the three point arc. The Raptors were 13-24 on three pointers in the game and Toronto made six of nine three pointers in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards found it, as they often have in the past, impossible to effectively police the arc.
With less than one minute to play the Raptors took a 101-100 lead, their first lead since very early in the first quarter, on a three point shot by Leonard Kleiza. The collapse was complete. But John Wall came back, a one-man fast break off a made basket, driving into the lane and laying in a bucket to re-take the lead for Washington by one point. Jerryd Bayless responded by penetrating into the lane, drawing a foul and hitting both free throws to put the Raptors back up by one. John Wall then came back, driving towards the paint. Bayless made contact with him and got whistled for the foul. Wall put up a prayer of a runner off the foul and the ball went in. Wizards back up by one point. Wall proceeded to miss the free throw, but Jan Vesely tipped the missed shot out to Jordan Crawford, who held the ball until he was fouled with 17.3 seconds left. Crawford missed the first free throw and made the second, giving Washington a 105-103 lead. Within seconds of each other Wall and Crawford missed free throws eight and nine for the Wizards on the night.
After a timeout Jerryd Bayless got a pick from Amir Johnson and drove past Wall into the lane. Bayless missed a layup, but Amir Johnson grabbed the rebound clean off the glass and threw down an uncontested dunk to tie the game at 105. The Wizards got the ball back with 10.2 seconds and a chance to win the game in regulation. Wall got the ball in bounds and killed time before passing to Nick Young just inside the three point arc. Young was looking to shoot all the way and didn't fool Raptors defender James Johnson at all. Johnson blocked the shot and the Raptors called timeout with 0.9 seconds left. Toronto in-bounded the ball in the backcourt, about 65 feet from the basket. Jose Calderon lobbed the ball to the basket, but John Wall leaped in front of James Johnson and swatted the ball away. The game went to overtime.
Jordan Crawford opened with a cool left-handed drive and layup in traffic and the Raptors responded with one free throw from Kleiza. Then the teams traded fouls and bad shots for several minutes, as the score remained at 107-106, Wizards. With just over a minute to play, Nick Young got fouled by Demar DeRozen in the act of shooting and made two free throws to put the Wizards up 109-106. After a timeout, Kleiza lost the ball to Trevor Booker. However, the Wizards couldn't take advantage, as Young missed a 17-footer coming off a screen. Getting the ball down low, Amir Johnson was fouled under the basket and made two free throws to narrow the Wizards lead to one, 109-108, with 27.2 seconds to play. The Raptors had played almost four and a half minutes of overtime without making a single shot from the field, but they trailed only by one point.
John Wall brought the ball up and killed almost twenty seconds before running a pick and roll with Trevor Booker, who took the Wall pass at the top of the key. Booker raced towards the bucket, but was fouled in the paint and went to the line for two shots. He hit his first shot, giving Washington a two point lead. His second shot bounced off the back of the rim and Nick Young emerged from a scrum under the basket with the ball. He looped around the three point arc trying to kill the clock, but was fouled with 1.5 seconds left. Young missed his first foul shot to keep Toronto in the game, but hit the second, giving Washington a 111-108 lead. With 1.5 seconds left, Washington had made only one field goal in overtime, but still led by three because the Raptors hadn't hit anything from the field. They looked like two punch drunk teams, unable to deliver a knockout blow.
Trevor Booker, John Wall, Chris Singleton, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford came in to stop the Raptors and win the game on the final possession. Jose Calderon in-bounded the ball to Rasual Butler at the top of the key, who shoveled it back to Calderon, who launched a three pointer from the top of the arc. The shot wasn't close and the Wizards finally emerged with a three point win, 111-108.
Special kudos to John Wall, who not only led all scorers with 31 points, but played lockdown defense on Jose Calderon, who racked up 17 dimes the last time these two teams played. Wall took that previous game personally and appeared prepared from the opening tipoff to do anything he could to control Calderon and beat the Raptors by himself if he had to.
Final Score: Washington 111 Toronto 08
Wizards Game MVP: John Wall -- 31 points, 10-19 FG, 11-14 FT, 5 REB, 7 AST, 4 TO, 2 BS, +4 ratio
Wizards record: 5-20, 14th out of 15 in th Eastern Conference.