Well, at least the month of March is over.
("Tanking" fans all over the city rejoice).
The Raptors end March with a record of 4-11, which includes losses in six of their last seven games.
Before I start getting into just how awful Toronto was for a majority of this game, let's give some credit where credit is due.
The Washington Wizards are (clearly) out of the playoff picture, but they have definitely been playing some solid basketball as of late, winning their last seven games at the Verizon Center. It's going to take a lot more success to erase the negative stigma that surrounds the franchise, but they are certainly on the right track.
For the second-straight game, Jonas Valanciunas has me singing his praises, as he finished the night with a team-high 18 points and ten rebounds, which is his second-straight double-double. He's now scored in double-figures in 11 of his last 12 games. Jonas has also grabbed six or more rebounds in each of his last 11 games.
Now if only fellow rookie Terrence Ross could start producing (12 minutes, 0 for 5 shooting, one rebound, three personal fouls). Like I've said in the past, even though I believe giving Jonas and Terrence more playing time to end the season is of the utmost importance, getting and keeping that PT should be on the onus of the players themselves. Valanciunas is producing, so he's earning his keep and playing more because of it.
Terrence, well, not so much. He's on an extremely short leash right now, and rightfully so. His poor shot selection and subpar defense are what's keeping him on the sidelines for the most part.
Toronto could have certainly used some half-decent production from Ross on this night though, as the Raptors bench was outscored 62-25 by the Wizards second-unit.
24 of those points came from Washington rookie Bradley Beal, who went 6 for 9 from three-point range, four of which game in the third quarter. In three games vs the Raptors this season, Beal is shooting 54% from the field and 61% from behind the arc.
Wherefore art thou shot of one DeMar DeRozan?
He did score 15 points, but it took the fourth-year guard 18 shots to get those 15 points. He got to the free-throw line just four times, and many of his jumpers were off-balanced and awkward.
In fact, DeMar's free-throw percentage fell a full 10% (89% - 79%) from February to March. His attempts from the charity stripe (7.5 - 5) also took a major hit as well.
Defense was a major issue throughout the night for Toronto, as the Wizards, who rank third from the bottom in shooting at just 43.4%, shot a respectable 48% from the field. The Raptors only shot 39%, which wasn't at all helped by their wings (DeRozan, Ross, Rudy Gay, Alan Anderson), who combined to hit 13 of their 38 attempts.
John Wall, who had a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists, was able to get whatever he wanted cutting through to the paint, as Toronto had little to no answer for his speed and ability to penetrate their defense.
For those fans still holding out hope for the Raptors to somehow move into the top-3 in this summers draft, you all must be salivating at the mouth from this loss. The Wizards appear to be on somewhat of an upswing, while Toronto continues its drop in the standings.
It's almost over.