For the second straight night the Raptors gave up a massive lead in the fourth quarter and found themselves in overtime. For the second straight night, the Raptors managed to claw out a win that was much harder than it should have been, but ultimately got their 6th straight win.
Playing in front of a sell out crowd in Washington, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference provided a first quarter that can only be described as an offensive exhibition. The Raptors missed five shots in the first quarter, and hit an ultra efficient 7 of 8 from long range in the opening frame. With the three guard lineup of Kyle Lowry, Greivis Vasquez and DeMar DeRozan, the pace picked up even more after Jonas Valanciunas was sent to the bench after two quick fouls in the first four minutes. Just like the Raptors, the Wizards were also clicking on all cylinders shooting over 68% from the field. Washington's defensive strategy was apparent from the opening tip as both Paul Pierce and Otto Porter took turns denying DeMar the ball rather than trying to deal with him after the catch.
While the Wizards cooled off, the hot streak for the Raptors continued as they began the second quarter on a 14-0 run. Terrence Ross provided a spark off of the bench with 8 points. Toronto entered the half up by 15, and held steady through the 3rd quarter, entering the the final 12 minutes of regulation with a 16 point lead.
The fourth quarter served as an example of the adage that in the NBA, no lead is safe. While the Raptors struggled to string together successive strong possessions, the trio of John Wall, Nene and Kris Humphries willed their way back into the game, setting the table for veteran Paul Pierce to hit the three to force overtime. Worth noting is the fact that Jonas Valanciunas fouled out, and Dwane Casey opted to guard John Wall down the stretch with Lou Williams. The Raptors' final play of regulation is likely to have irked many Raptors fans, as it was simply Iso-Lou going one-on-one with Wall.
The Raptors regained control of the game in overtime, stringing together enough stops to pull out the 120-116 victory; Lowry led the way with 7 in the quarter. It is important to note that this game would not have been won without the contributions of Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson. As great as their combined 11/17, 33 point effort was, the two battled Nene/Gortat/Humphries inside all night, particularly late in the game. Every post up and drive by a Washington big man was met with a wall, every rebound contested; these two jointly deserve the game ball.
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