‘We Met the Opposition, and It Was Us'

Bargnani leads 9-man Raptors past Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Andrea Bargnani offered a simple secret for his success against the Washington Wizards, an explanation that applied to his Toronto teammates, too.

"I never shot with a defender on me," Bargnani said.

Down to nine players, the Raptors still easily beat worst-in-the-East Washington 99-93 on Wednesday night by making 54 percent of their field-goal attempts.

Bargnani had 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting.

The crowd was sparse and the atmosphere dull for a game between two losing teams that fired their head coaches this season and are missing a half-dozen starters combined.

The Raptors traded Hassan Adams to the Clippers in a money-saving move earlier in the day and were without three starters who did not make the trip: Jermaine O'Neal (right knee), Jose Calderon (right hamstring) and Jamario Moon (wife gave birth to a baby).

"Gutsy performance," Raptors interim coach Jay Triano said.

Not surprisingly, his Washington counterpart did not see things that way.

"We met the opposition, and it was us," Washington interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "We took a step back, defensively and offensively tonight. Compared to the last few games that we've played, clearly I'm not happy."

Toronto's 21-point lead was cut to as few as five in the fourth quarter, and the advantage was only six at 89-83 with a little more than 2 minutes left. But that's when Chris Bosh set up Bargnani for a 3-pointer that effectively sealed the outcome.

Bargnani went 4-for-5 on 3s, and 4-for-4 on other field-goal attempts. Bosh scored half his 18 points in the fourth quarter and added eight rebounds and six assists.

"They're familiar with each other," Triano said, "and they're starting to jell."

The Wizards have been having trouble figuring each other out, with constantly shifting lineups as they try to mix in youngsters while dealing with injuries.

"We're developing a lot of players this season. It's no secret," said Caron Butler, who scored 15 points. "You see a lot of young guys playing that probably wouldn't see the court at all if everyone was healthy."

Antawn Jamison scored a season-high 32 points for Washington, which hasn't had Gilbert Arenas (left knee) or Brendan Haywood (right wrist) all season, and is without starting shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, who has missed a week and is expected to be out at least another 1½ weeks with a bad back.

The Wizards opened a stretch in which they play eight consecutive games against opponents whose records are currently below .500, a soft spot in the schedule they hoped to exploit.

Instead, the Wizards (7-27) might have hit a new low by falling to the short-handed Raptors (15-21).

"It's a step back, not because of who wasn't on the court for them, but just the way we played. We didn't play good basketball at all. We didn't get effort. We got outrebounded by one of the worst teams in the NBA," Jamison said. "We thought the outcome should have been different."

Toronto came in 28th of 30 teams in rebounding average, but had a 39-28 edge Wednesday.

The Wizards had plenty of other problems. They committed two shot-clock violations in the first 10 minutes. And they missed a whole bunch of jump shots -- precisely the sort of laziness on offense that Tapscott blamed for the franchise-record-low six points scored during a quarter in Tuesday's loss at Orlando.

Toronto led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and 27-16 when it ended, thanks to a 71-40 edge in shooting percentage.
Bargnani's 3-pointer with a little more than 4 minutes left in the first half made it 46-25, prompting Tapscott to call timeout -- and many in the announced crowd of 13,864 to boo.

It was 50-38 at halftime, but no lead has been very safe in the Raptors' hands. They entered Wednesday having lost eight games in which they led by at least 10 points.

This time, though, they held on.

"We've been here before," Bosh said. "No reason to get nervous."

Notes: With seven rebounds, Jamison pushed his career total above 6,000, making him one of eight active players with that many boards and 14,000 points. ... Triano expects Moon to be back for Toronto's next game, at home Friday against Memphis. "I told him, 'You can go for the birth, but you don't need to babysit,"' Triano said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us