The Raptors and Wizards started off with a sluggish start in the first quarter. The two teams took turns leading this game only to let the other come back and even things up. The one thing the Raptors did consistently for most of the game was getting on the glass at both ends. They ended up with 61 rebounds, 64 points in the paint and 28 second chance points. That is always going to be a recipe for a win. Raptors took control of the game in the 2nd. After a three for Washington to close out the first tied at 22. The Raptors would dominate the 2nd out scoring the Wizards 33-23 and have a 10 point half time lead for there effort. The start of the 2nd half was not as good as Wizards came out and got the game to with in a single point. The Raptors got to the edge of the cliff and slammed on the breaks and hit reverse. Dwane Casey decided to make a move and take out Demar DeRozan who was getting exposed on defence. Linas Kleiza would replace him in the line-up and he fixed the issues on D and added some offence. The Raptors slowly took back the advantage they had built. By the end of the third the lead had increased to 11 and the Raptors would close things out with a strong 4th quarter to end up with the 106-89 win.
Amir Johnson had a monster throw down that prompted Matt Devlin to proclaim he was back. He did have a huge bounce back game as it turned out with 18 points, 13 rebounds with 7 of those coming on the offensive end. In what has been a tough time for Amir, who coach Casey said has been having some personal issues in terms of his family, was able to put it aside and perform. It is something that Raptor fans were happy to see from a guy that is so active with the fan base. When Amir is going good it usually has something to do with Jose Calderon. The two over the years have developed a wonderful chemistry. Calderon seemed to be trying to aid Amir in his efforts to have a great night. We saw Jose at his distributing best with 17 assists to go along with 8 points and a rare 8 rebounds from the point guard position.
In the end it was a team win with the Raptors having 5 players in double figures including 3 coming off the bench. Barbosa who was under the weather and was sent home earlier in the day came back for the game and poured in a team high 19. Kleiza who was the spark off the bench that kept this car on the road in the 3rd had 15 points. Johnson we already mentioned had 18. If my math is correct the Raptors had 63 points coming off the bench in total. James Johnson had 13 and DeRozan 11 as the other two double figure scorers. It was a rough night for Demar again shooting just 4-12 and having his issues on defence. But he like everyone was active on the glass with 7 rebounds. Easier to take a tough night for Demar when the team plays well. But still a concern as we move forward. He could use a night like Amir Johnson had sooner rather than later.
All these good feelings are great but how much it will help the Raptors come Sunday afternoon remains to be seen. They travel to Miami and face Chris Bosh and those two super friends of his Lebron James and D-Wade. The Miami Heat are a challenge for any team in the NBA. In terms of the Raptors it might be mission impossible. Dwane Casey was able to find a way to stop Miami as an assistant in Dallas, but as the head coach in Toronto that will prove to be a much more difficult task. But that is why tonight's game was so important. Instead of looking at strong possibility of facing a 4 game losing streak heading in Miami, they come in off a strong performance feeling good about themselves. In fact not just them, but fans can feel a little better about their Raptors after a performance like this tonight.