Raptors fall flat in Washington

Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas swats the ball away from Toronto Raptors' Linas Kleiza....

Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas swats the ball away from Toronto Raptors' Linas Kleiza. (REUTERS/Jason Reed)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:39 PM ET

WASHINGTON — It was like that entire weekend in Florida never happened.

Not that it was perfect basketball by any means in the sunshine state, but it was clearly preferable to the lacklustre excuse for professional basketball the Raptors put on display Tuesday night in D.C. in a 109-94 loss.

Just when it looks like the Raptors are ready to take a couple of steps forward they revert to the passive jump-shooting team that shys away from contact at both ends of the court.

The alterations to both lineups in Tuesday’s game only made the result that much more painful from a Toronto perspective.

For Washington, no John Wall and no Yi Jianlian.

On the other side, the Raptors got Linas Kleiza and Reggie Evans back.

That’s two of the Wizards top six out and two of Jay Triano’s top five back, although Kleiza returned as a reserve.

There have not been too many times so far this season you could say the Raptors came into a game favoured, but last night’s certainly seemed like one of those cases.

In Wall, the Wizards were missing their leading scorer, best assist man and most frequent visitor to the free-throw line.

Jianlian is Flip Saunders’ first guy off the bench.

If they missed either, it was not apparent.

Even with Kleiza back from a two-game absence as he dealt with some right Achilles tendinitis, head coach Jay Triano opted to stay with Sonny Weems in the starting lineup and bring Kleiza in off the bench.

Good thing he did too or this one might have been an even bigger dog than it was.

Weems was the only thing keeping the Raptors even close as his 14 first-half points managed to keep the Wizards within sight at least. He finished the night with a team-high 16.

Weems’ solid start was more than offset by the indifference of Andrea Bargnani. When Bargnani’s shot wasn’t falling early on, the rest of his game went right down the toilet with it.

Defence was an afterthought and rebounding — well rebounding was what rebounding usually is with Bargnani — a rumour. He finished with 12 points.

After about seven minutes of that from Bargnani, Triano had seen enough and nailed him to the bench for the final five minutes of the first quarter.

He was back out there to start the second with the other Raptors starters and managed to get off the schneid with his first bucket of the night but little else and spent another six minutes on the bench.

There was little urgency from anyone in the Raptors lineup in that first half other than what Weems and Reggie Evans showed.

DeMar DeRozan, who was coming off two solid games in Florida was almost as invisible in that first half as Bargnani.

He did come on toward the end of the half to finish the half with seven but was not the attacking DeRozan, who looked to have turned a corner in Florida. DeRozan finished with 12.

On the boards, the Raptors were no match for the likes of JaVale McGee, Andray Blatche and company who easily won that battled 47-36.

Evans, who came off his sick bed after three straight days Tuesday afternoon, had some energy but in much shorter spurts than he has been. Still, his nine boards led an otherwise woeful effort in that department.

In his first game back after watching the past two in street clothes, Kleiza showed some life with a team high 15 off the bench with the majority coming in the second half when the Raps were already well down.

None of the Wizards seemed to be missing Wall, the No. 1 pick of last year’s draft, much at all.

Blatche, who had been dealing with some knee problems, finished with a team high 22. But the most impressive performance of the night came from Nick Young, who came off the bench to pump in 20 on 8-of-15 shooting.

Gilbert Arenas, coming off a 30-point night in a loss to Chicago on Saturday and getting his first start of the year, also had 20.

Prior to the game, Triano pointed to that trio of Blatche, Young and Arenas as the three his Raptors would have to keep in check if they were to be successful.

It was one of the few things any of the Raptors had right all night.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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