T.O. avenges OT loss with dominating performance
Richard Lautens/Torstar News Service
Some nights, the game just comes easy.
Like nights when three-pointers fall like layups, when every shot is an open one, when no one’s worried about rebounding deficiencies.
Like last night.
Shooting themselves to a victory that erased much of the sting of an overtime loss a day earlier, the Raptors rolled to a 122-83 triumph over the Washington Wizards at the Air Canada Centre.
The rout matched the biggest margin of victory in club history, a 39-point margin over Atlanta in a 112-73 win on April 12, 2002.
The Raptors were helped last night by making nine of the first 11 three-pointers they took and finished 13-for-18 from beyond the arc. They shot 57 per cent from the field and made 15 of 17 free throws. And get this — they outrebounded the Wizards 38-30 a night after being hammered on the boards.
“It’s okay that we win by 30-something but we are upset about (Tuesday) night,” said Jose Calderon. “We were mad because of (Tuesday’s) game, so we just came out and just tried to play our basketball game, to be more aggressive and we did that from the beginning. We did not let them come back, that’s what we need to do.”
Andrea Bargnani, maligned for his x poor shooting in so many recent games, exploded for 19 points and Anthony Parker had 16 as the Raptors won easily despite a less-than-dominating performance by Chris Bosh, who had 16.
Calderon, who played just 26 minutes on a night when Juan Dixon was more than a capable backup, finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, his 16th double-double of the season.
But the Raptors didn’t need Bosh because everyone else was making shots. The bench brigade of Carlos Delfino, Jason Kapono, Juan Dixon and Rasho Nesterovic did an excellent job in breaking the game open in the second quarter.
“I thought Juan played great, he ran the team,” said coach Sam Mitchell. “There have been some nights where it looked like he struggled but we just didn’t catch some of his passes. I think his teammates helped him out, they made some shots and caught his passes.”
Dixon was particularly effective in 22 minutes with 12 points and five assists, but every Raptor who dressed played at least seven minutes and every player scored.
“(It was) good for Maceo (Baston, nine minutes, six points, four rebounds) to get a chance to play and Joey (Graham),” said Mitchell. “And for Juan to get extended minutes, because we’re going to need him. He has been playing well the last week or so. I think I’m getting more confidence in him, too.”
After Toronto led by only five after one, a group of mainly reserves out-scored Washington 33-18 in the second to take control.
And unlike so many games in the past where sluggish third-quarter play would allow an opponent back in the game, the Raptors pulled away after the break.
Toronto had surrendered 19 offensive rebounds and were drilled 57-44 on the boards in an overtime loss in Washington on Tuesday but held their own in the rebounding battle last night, allowing only 10 offensive boards.
“After this game, we have to be more upset for the game we lost (Tuesday) night,” said Calderon. “We have to play like this every night.”
The Wizards were again without Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas and lost guard Antonio Daniels, who limped off six minutes into the third quarter and did not return.
“Our young guys didn’t respond very well coming off the bench and that’s what happens when they (the Raptors) make shots like they do,” said Washington coach Eddie Jordan.