Momentum seemed to be on Toronto's side going into Monday night's tilt vs. the Washington Wizards. A 106-89 win at home vs. those very Wizards, and a hard fought game vs. one ofthe NBA's best, the Miami Heat, on Super Bowl Sunday showed that Toronto was coming out with excellent effort and were playing until the end.
The Raptors had another slow start, and were down 29-19 after the 1st quarter, and managed to force the game to OT by having two 30 point quarters in the 2nd half: 30 in the 3rd, and 33 in the 4th. The Raptors managed to outscore the Wizards by 10 in the final stanza to extend the game.
Jerryd Bayless & Linas Kleiza followed up their 17 point performances from yesterday, with VERY strong games tonight. They matched each others' scoring again, each going for 30! Kleiza was super efficient scoring those 30 points on 11-16 shooting, including four 3-pointers, while coming off the bench and tallying 33 minutes. He and Bayless had key baskets in the final 3 minutes of the 4th quarter, as the Raptors went back and forth with the Wizards trying to settle this one in regulation. James Johnson had a key block on Nick Young at the end of regulation to preserve the score at 108 a piece. (The official NBA box score has not credited Jimmy Johns with that block, but I'm sure that will be adjusted in time.)
The Wizards' Trevor Booker was the unsung hero for his club, who got his 2nd straight start and played 43 minutes tonight, while posting 19 points (7-10 from the field, and 5-6 from the line). He was a big presence for the Wizards on the defensive side of the ball gathering 3 steals, and collecting 3 blocks. Nick Young & John Wall brought their A-games tonight, efficiently putting up 31 & 29 points respectively.
Overtime certainly wasn't pretty for either club, but the Wizards managed to gain the lead and hold on for the win by scoring 6 points in the final 5 minutes compared to the Raptors' 3. Final score: Washington 111, Toronto 108.
Despite the loss, given their fantastic games tonight, I thought it was only right to further highlight the Raptors' players of the game to let our readers see & hear what they had to say after this gutwrenching loss:
Video links (via Raptors.com):
Linas Kleiza's postgame comments
Jerry Bayless' postgame comments
As always, be sure to follow & join the conversation during each Raptors game on Twitter by using the #RTZ hashtag. Check out the reactions from other Raptors fans in tonight's heartbreaking overtime loss.
The Toronto Raptors return home to the ACC to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. Another tough matchup ahead for the the Raps.