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News » 'Gutsy' Raptors zap Wizards

'Gutsy' Raptors zap Wizards

'Gutsy' Raptors zap Wizards
Perhaps in an attempt to energize an unenthused crowd at last night's Raptors-Wizards game, an in-arena cameraman focused on Alexander Ovechkin, the star of the surging NHL residents.

In a telling move Ovechkin, seeing his face on the giant screen, attempted to hide behind his neighbour; indeed, a matchup between teams with a combined .308 winning percentage isn't, by definition, a see-and-be-seen occasion.

Still, Toronto's 99-93 win, though it will hardly go down as an I-was-there moment in sports history for the announced 13,864 on hand, was a sorely needed triumph for the visitors, who led by 21 points in the early going and held on for their third win in four game.

After a trade that sent reserve forward Hassan Adams to the L.A. Clippers yesterday - and after starting swingman Jamario Moon was summoned to Alexander City, Ala., where his wife Tamara gave birth to the couple's first child yesterday afternoon at 3: 45 - the Raptors, already without injured starters Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon, had just nine players in uniform.

Still, on a night when all-star Chris Bosh was hard to recognize for long stretches - he missed nine of his first 12 shots - Toronto made good on 54 per cent from the field, including 8 of 9 by Andrea Bargnani, who scored a team-high 25 points.

"I never shot with a defender on me," said Bargnani. "(Bosh) just passed me the ball when he was (double-teamed)."

Said Bosh of Bargnani: "He's been real good. I don't know what switched him on, but he got some confidence somewhere, or he got his confidence back, I should say."

The win was at least a little bit reminiscent of a evening here six years ago, when the Lenny Wilkens-coached Raptors came to D.C. with the league-minimum eight players in uniform - including 10-day-contract stalwarts Damone Brown and Art Long - and beat the Michael Jordan-led Wizards 84-75.

"Gutsy performance, I thought, from a lot of our guys, to step up with guys out and guys missing," said Raptors head coach Jay Triano.

"Even the trade (of Adams) shakes the locker room a little bit. It's just good for our guys to get the win. We're real happy," Triano added.

Still, last night's circumstance was on Toronto's side; the Wizards, who were led by Antawn Jamison's 32 points and seven rebounds, had only returned from a loss in Orlando in the wee hours of yesterday morning.

And the Raptors pounced on the weary, shooting 71 per cent in the first quarter and opening up a 21-point lead before halftime.

By midway through the fourth quarter, though, the Wizards had whittled the gap to just five points. At that moment it looked as though the Raptors, coming off a loss in Milwaukee on Monday in which they were outscored 13-0 in the final two minutes, might be ripe for another collapse.

Instead, they made some key jump shots. Bosh, for one, delivered important scores down the stretch to finish with 18 points.

One previously slumping Raptor got back on track. Jason Kapono, the sharpshooter who'd made just 29 per cent from the field in his previous five games, went 5 for 8 for 12 points.

"It was blind luck," deadpanned Kapono.

And Bargnani continued his nice work as the starting centre.

Bargnani's recent hot streak - he is averaging about 22 points while shooting 57 per cent from the field in the past five games - will make for an interesting coaching decision when O'Neal, the incumbent starter, returns to health.

The Italian, after all, has been largely ineffective as a small forward and as a bench player, and one assumes O'Neal, though he doesn't complement Bosh as well as a hot-shooting Bargnani, would not take kindly to coming off the pine.

"Haven't even thought of it," said Triano, "and I'm not going to think of it right now."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 8, 2009


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