Rise Of Jonas Valanciunas Continues In Raptors' Victory Over Wizards

USA TODAY Sports

A strong third quarter and yet another stellar performance from Valanciunas helps Toronto split the season series with the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

The boss man Adam Francis hit it right on the head with his analysis in the "Rapid Recap".

For the most part, this game was uglyyyyyyyy. For at least the first half, this game was so ugly, Julia Roberts wanted to marry it.

Despite trailing by 11 points at halftime, the Toronto Raptors (28-47) were able to rally for a 29-12 third quarter, eventually beating the Washington Wizards (28-47) by a final score of 88-78.


Yep, we won the game. I'm sure you're all delighted the team was finally able to defeat some mediocre competition. We as fans can only take so many losses to teams like the Pistons, Wizards and Bobcats before we start banging our heads against the wall and wonder what the heck is going on with our beloved Raptors.

Bradley Beal wasn't around for Washington, which was huge. It was just a few days ago where Beal torched Toronto for 24 points off the bench, including six three-pointers.

His teammates couldn't buy a bucket without him on this night. John Wall (20 points, five rebounds, five assists), Garrett Temple (two rebounds, two steals) and Martell Webster (four points, three rebounds, three assists) combined to shoot 6 for 27 from the field for the starting-unit. The team as a whole only hit 32% of their shots, including a dreadful 26% from behind the arc.

The Wizards clearly had a hard time getting the ball in the basket, especially in the second half (4 for 21 in the third quarter).

Now let's get to the main story coming out of last night's game.

Jonas Valanciunas.

In a little over 40 minutes (say what?), Valanciunas would score a career-high 24 points and grab 10 rebounds, which is his third double-double in the last four games.

It only took Jonas seven shots (he hit four) to get those 24 points. How is that possible?

Maybe it's because he went to the free-throw line a staggering 18 times, hitting 16.

It's as if Jonas Valanciunas has officially become the anti-Andrea Bargnani. He's everything we've wanted Il Mago to be since he arrived in Toronto, and it's only his first year in the league. I hate bringing up his name, but it's absolutely true. Andrea is more of a perimeter oriented player, and that's not part of the way Jonas plays basketball, but how many times as fans have we demanded that Andrea start attacking the glass, create offense in the post, grab some rebounds and defend the paint?

Jonas does all of those things.

Sure, he's had his growing pains, and maybe this last stretch of games is getting me all starstruck for the 20-year old Lithuanian, thus clouding my overall judgement. I don't care at this point. Jonas is getting me excited about his potential to be a star moving forward for the Raptors. He's an extremely likeable guy, he works hard and he produces when given the opportunity to shine.

Need I remind you that he's only 20-years old. The best is yet to come. He's just getting started.

Colangelo, you got this one right. Gold star.

After a 34-point outing Monday night against the Detroit Pistons, Rudy Gay was basically a non-factor in this Raptors win. As it turns out, Rudy was reduced to just 26 minutes of action by Coach Casey because he twisted his ankle. In those 26 minutes, Gay scored just six points on 2 for 8 shooting. He missed all three of his three-point attempts, and he turned the ball over four times.

Definitely not a game to remember.

DeMar DeRozan had a solid day shooting the basketball, scoring 25 points on 11 for 21 shooting, joining Valanciunas as the only other Raptor to score in double-figures.

While not particularly efficient with his shot (2 for 8, nine points), Kyle Lowry was able to contribute in other areas, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out 13 assists. When his shots not falling, Lowry finds other ways to help the team.

Terrence Ross is slowly fading away into obscurity. The excuse of "Coach Casey doesn't play rookies" is officially out the window. Valanciunas played 40 minutes. Heck, even Quincy Acy (20 minutes, 4 for 5 shooting, eight points, three rebounds) made the most of his playing time. In just seven minutes, Ross scored two points, which didn't matter at all.

Year one has certainly been unmemorable for the rookie, unless you count winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest something to write home about. Terrence has to compete for playing time with Gay, DeRozan and even Landry Fields, while Jonas basically has free-reign in the frontcourt. Regardless, when given a chance to play, Ross has done anything but excel, and that's whats so frustrating. We're waiting for him to blow up and have that memorable stretch of games that really gets Raptors fans on his side. That hasn't happened yet. The jury is still out, and it's always darkest before the dawn, but for right now, it's just not there.

The Raptors have their next game Friday night on the road against Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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